Olympic Legacy – Role for Northampton
Like millions of other people throughout the UK watching the Olympic athletes, and I mean both the Olympic and Paralympic athletes, you can’t help but be inspired and impressed by the commitment not only of the athletes but their families, coaches, training partners and all of those who volunteered to help in delivering the greatest games in the modern era.
Yes there was cynicism over the past seven years as to whether London and the UK would be able to deliver the games and the consternation just before the games opened around the failure of G4S to deliver the security which meant that the military had to step in to save the day.
Thankfully, as history now shows the armed services stepped up to the mark and delivered for which we should all be grateful.
Yes there was as part of the cynicism real concerns including questions in Parliament that funding for athletes and sport at grass-roots level was being siphoned off in tens of millions to provide the venues and regeneration around the Olympic Park, but let’s be honest without it East London wouldn’t have received the investment it needed to move into the 21st Century.
What is now a major issue for the Olympic Legacy and especially for those young and not so young people who have been inspired to enter or return to sport is that the facilities, number and quality of coaches and administrators may not be enough to meet the needs and I really hope that funding will now be made available through the lottery and from businesses to provide the opportunities needed.
We no longer should regard the Paralympics Athletes as those who every now and again should be given the opportunity to compete at the same competitions as ‘Able Bodied Athletes’, if the games have proved it is that the Paralympic athletes are exactly that, athletes in their own right.
No longer are they disabled people who have to be accommodated, and wouldn’t it be great in the Diamond Series international competitions if we saw for example the 1500 metres race followed by a 1500 metres wheelchair race, the 100 metres followed by a 100 metres for sight impaired athletes.
Or even better a Para-Diamond Series of international competitions.
Locally in Northampton as the Sixfields Stadium Development goes forward the Borough should be prepared to donate land in the Enterprises Zone for the development of a high quality community athletics stadium with both outside and inside facilities for training and competition that will be available for all of the town’s schools and clubs.
The proposal to stop the provision of discretionary rate relief to Northampton’s Sports Clubs is one that will put an unnecessary additional financial burden on them and should be dropped as a proposal and all sports clubs should as part of the Olympic Legacy contribution from the Borough Council be told that they will receive 100% rate relief. I’m sure it would be a policy that all political parties would support, and certainly is one I’ll be fighting for.
Of course, as we have already seen questions are being asked about those in public positions who have received ‘gifts and freebies’ from the Olympic and Paralympics sponsors but we shouldn’t let questions about whether people were ‘freeloading’ or questions about who benefitted from ’freeloading on the freeloaders’ distract us from the real question, which is.
How are we throughout the UK and especially from my point of view in Northampton going to build what has been a fantastic advert for all that is best in sport through genuine and honest teamwork and a commitment to support them.
Of course not everyone can be an Olympian, but everyone can aspire to maximise their talents and it is the role of everyone who are in a position to provide the support, whether politically or socially to do everything they can to support those who voluntarily give up their time to work across the whole spectrum of sports in Northampton.
What a great summer, now we have to set about building on it for the future.
The challenge is out there, how we all respond will speak volumes of our commitment to the future generation of sports people.