My School Sport Journey
My School Sport Journey by Debbie Foote, Young Ambassador
Young people don't always get a good press. If you believe
what you often read in the papers, we are all hanging around street
corners, smoking, drinking and acting irresponsibly.
The reality, as most rational people know, is actually somewhat different. There are by far and away more young people that are respectful, well mannered members of society, that will go on to have a positive involvement in the community.
As a 17-year old, I like to think of myself as one such responsible teenager - and I put sport at the heart of how I have developed as a person. I am chair of the Young Ambassadors movement, a group of young people who use the values and power of the Olympic and Paralympic Games to motivate and inspire other young people to become involved in sport.
We Young Ambassadors came about as a result of London winning the bid to host the 2012 Games. Since the Young Ambassador programme began back in 2006, it has grown dramatically through the management and support of the Youth Sport Trust - by 2012 we will see more than 8,000 young people up and down the country using the Games as a way to engage more youngsters to take up PE and sport. It really is a very exciting time for young people.
It's not always been an easy road though. The cuts to school sport announced by the Government last October sent me into overdrive to be honest. When I heard about the plans to remove all funding I had to take action to try and stop it. A petition opposing the decision was launched across the country and more than half a million signatures were taken to Downing Street, with an accompanying peaceful demonstration in London.
Looking back on it, I like to think I played my part in encouraging the Government to have a rethink in December when they confirmed they'd be reinvesting money into school sport. As part of this, there is going to be additional money for the Young Ambassadors movement to be expanded so that every secondary school and some primary schools can introduce even more Young Ambassadors in the run up to London 2012.
So where do I think things are at now? Whilst it's not all the money, it's a much better place than where we were back in October. I think everyone involved in school sport needs to think about how the money which is now being invested can be best used to benefit as many young people as possible.
Members of the Young Ambassadors steering group and I met recently with Education Minister Tim Loughton to discuss how things are likely to move forward. I was encouraged to hear the minister tell us he is very keen on promoting more sport in schools and that he's committed to doing this. He wants to continue meeting with us, to hear the views of young people, and we'll be working with him on how we think the Young Ambassadors programme can continue to be developed.
It's been a rollercoaster few months, for me personally and for school sport. Back in October I could never have anticipated being thrust into the limelight on national breakfast TV talking about the importance of sport, or meeting with ministers at the very top level of Government. It has tested the many skills I have developed through my sporting journey - my confidence, leadership and self belief to name but a few - thankfully they served me well.