Half time at London 2012 and a job well done… but the “L” debate needs a more rounded view…

It was never in doubt, was it? Superb facilities, a stunning environment, event organisation of outstanding quality, and an army of volunteers that made event participation and attendance a pleasure.

All of the superlatives thrown at the Games and Team GB are deserved – this has been an outstanding achievement for Britain and for sport.

And yet, here we are only at half time (with the best ever Paralympic Games yet to follow) with sports policy rather being developed on the hoof…

So far we have an increase in UK Sport elite funding announced to maintain the medal count in Rio in 2016, and a new curriculum requirement for primary schools for PE and sport in September with competitive team sports made compulsory for all primary school children in England. ( A draft new curriculum this autumn will specify participation in sports such as hockey, netball or football)

Both these initiatives have some merit of course.

The power of Olympic role models to inspire whole communities let alone young people has been evident throughout the Games. Let’s hope that the wide range of elite sports can maintain this positive media momentum and continue to grow new audiences and promote participation– maybe football can learn a few lessons!

More Primary school sport is also a positive move, but the practicalities beyond the rhetoric will need working through, with competing curriculum attainment priorities and an increasingly fragmented school sector.

Sport England’s Creating a sporting habit for life introduced a raft of school centred initiatives of course, linking to the targeted 14- 25 year old transitional years for sports participation.

The familiar story to date is of course the deafening silence at national level around the sporting legacy inter-dependence on the community sports landscape and local authority investment and provision and facilities. My guess is that as sector professionals we are all too busy working hard at making this legacy count locally where it matters most, building local leadership support for sport and the broader community benefits sport can deliver through active healthy lifestyles.

Significant reductions year on year on that £1.5 billion investment in local sport are underway as described in cCLOA’s financial survey. We all know the next CSR will present unprecedented challenges on local government finance and the trajectory for cuts won’t escape sport and leisure of course.

Let’s be clear – sports legacy will be only truly be achieved by local partners and leaders really owning this aspiration for young people and our communities.

So my call to Jeremy Hunt and Lord Coe is to have a rounded “L” debate recognising all the parts of the sporting landscape. cCLOA will of course be at the heart of this discussion, hopefully taken to greater heights throughout the Paralympics.

I’m keen to hear your views in this debate so join in via the LinkedIn forum or drop me a line directly. In the meantime enjoy the rest of the Games!

Richard Hunt – Chair, Chief Cultural and Leisure Officers Association

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