More than four million young people from schools across Britain have signed-up to take part in the event which runs until July 1st.
Jonathan Edwards, the Olympic gold medallist triple jumper, used the occasion to call on the government to make sport as much of a priority as maths and English if the legacy benefits of the 2012 Games are to be realised.
The government was forced into a U-turn in December last year over plans to
slash the £162m budget of the Youth Sport Trust, following a concerted campaign by schoolchildren, athletes and opposition MPs.
Lower level funding was found to keep the trust going and plans have been unveiled for a new inter and intra-school competition that will culminate in finals at the Olympic stadium.
But Edwards, who now sits on the board of the London 2012 organising
committee, said the government needed to go further to ensure that all schools
took sport as seriously as other academic subjects.
“The biggest single change you could make to ensure a sporting legacy would be
to make physical activity as much a part of the curriculum as maths and English.
The value of sport is not in finding an Olympic champion, but in the benefits of
health and wellbeing.”
“School sport has to be at the heart of it. If you’re going to have an impact on
young people’s lives, you have to get it right in school. The majority of them are
not just going to pitch up at a club unless their parents push them to,” said
Edwards, who is also deputy chair of the London 2012 countries and regions
Reduced funding for the Youth Sport Trust has meant that 450 Youth Sport Trust coordinators, currently on five-day week contracts will be made redundant on 31 August, and must decide whether to reapply for new three-day week positions.
Additionally, funding that is currently provided to release PE teachers for two days a week to work with other schools in the area will be replaced by cash to allow each secondary school to release a teacher one day a week to work with primary schools.
Source: The Guardian