Olympic spirit could change lives
That is the view of the local men and women who in their various roles now must keep the sports buzz alive in the district.
Schools have perhaps the most important role to play in getting children into sport, and two academy headteachers, Paul Dick at Kennet School in Thatcham, and Derek Peaple at Park House School in Newbury, have made wider opportunities and greater inclusion their personal missions.
“Schools can capitalise by encouraging inclusion and offering a wider range of sports to pupils so children take at least one sport away with them into adulthood.
"I would encourage local sports clubs to make better links with their local secondary schools either by linking up with PE teachers or having coaches go into schools,” Mr Dick said.
Mr Peaple added: “We can capitalise in the broader sense by giving young people leadership opportunities.
“We also have the Paralympics coming up but it doesn't end there, there are a series of major sporting events in the UK including the rugby World Cup, so it is important that we plan for how to continue with the movement. It is key that schools work with local clubs to ensure there are opportunities for progression.”
West Berkshire Council’s young person’s executive member, Irene Neill (Con, Aldermaston), urged anyone who took part in the Olympics, whether medal winners or not, to get into schools and encourage youngsters to take up sport.
She said lottery funding may be available in future for sports such as judo, but called on youngsters and their parents to carry through their enthusiasm and show there was a desire for the district to lay foundations for future success.
“As well as competitiveness being good for development making greater use of the sporting facilities is also a good opportunity for our young people to participate in physical activity,” she said.
“We are very lucky to have Adventure Dolphin Centre in Pangbourne which gives young people from all backgrounds the opportunity to be involved in water sports – with the amount of waterway in the district canoeing and rowing could be encouraged even more.”
The leader of West Berkshire Council, Graham Jones (Con, Lambourn), said the shock of seeing holiday photos of himself out of shape made him realise he must make changes in his own life.
“The Olympic legacy must be about the nation, particularly our children, getting more active. Unless we change our ways and become more active we are facing the prospect of our children having a shorter life expectancy than their parents,” he said.
“[The mayor of London] Boris Johnson has followed the lead set by West Berkshire and has announced a round London cycle challenge.
“We plan on building on the success of this year’s Big West Berks Cycle challenge.”