Schoolchildren still inspired by London 2012 Olympics

The Bolton News: Tag rugby players Jamie Farnworth and Charlotte Davenport, both aged 10 Buy this photo » Tag rugby players Jamie Farnworth and Charlotte Davenport, both aged 10

YOUNG sportsman Jamie Farnworth was all smiles when he announced his school’s football team was placed fourth in the local league — its best ever position.

But the 10-year-old added: “We are going to do even better next time.”

While keen cross-country runner, Charlotte Davenport, also 10, wants to take her sport as far as possible, she said she “really enjoys it”.

The Blackrod Church School pupils are just two of the many children at the school, and throughout Bolton, who are being encouraged to take part in, and develop a love for sport, as part of the Olympic legacy.

Coaches are being brought in and committed teachers are giving up their weekends and evenings to encourage and motivate pupils.

Headteacher James Royal said: “We try to give the children a range of different sports to take part in — cricket, rounders, swimming.

“Danny Hopkins, the PE teacher really inspires and engages the children in sports — and the school football team is now the fourth best in Bolton.

“Sport is really important. It is an additional way of children uncovering another talent they may have. It supports their academic work because they develop dedication, focus and concentration.”

He added: “We do not shy away from competition but it is also about children having a go and enjoying sport at a recreation level.”

Sport also strengthens ties with parents who come out to support their children.

School sport was dealt a blow when the coalition government announced the School Sports Partnership which was established 2000 and supported initiatives between schools to increase sporting chances for children was to be scrapped. Before the start of the scheme less than half of schoolchildren were taking part in two-hours of sporting activities a week.

Through the partnership, those taking part in quality sports in and out of school in Bolton rose from about 40 per cent to 90 per cent.

Last March it was announced that school sport in Bolton would receive £850,000 as part of the Olympic legacy. Blackrod Church School received £9,000 to invest in sports.

This month, it was announced that primary schools will receive an additional £750 million for sports between now and the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics to help secure the legacy from the London Games.

Schools are given the freedom to spend the money on specialist coaching and teacher training, dedicated sports programmes, Change4Life sports clubs or on after-school or weekend competitions.

Mr Royal said: “The 2012 London Olympic Games inspired the children and they are talking about the Winter Olympics. We have a rugby coach who comes in to work with the children.”

After developing an interest in a sport, children can join community sports clubs to develop their skills.

And it was thanks to the school introducing its young people to different sports, that Charlotte developed a love of cross-country running.

She said: “I want to take the sport as far as I can. I just tried it and got a time and now I really enjoy it. Being active is really important and keeps you fit. And you can’t beat the feeling of doing well.”

Jamie said: “Without sports you would just get bored. I also play rugby. I feel really happy when I am playing sports.”

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