Mansfield MP Ben Bradley took part in a debate on Tuesday in the House of Commons on the role of sport in schools and communities. During this debate Ben highlighted research demonstrating the importance of sport and physical activity for children in particular, with research suggesting a positive correlation between levels of physical activity and academic achievement. Furthermore, Ben the role sport plays in children’s social development and how this prepares children for later life. Ben stated ‘Sport, particularly team games, encourages the social development of young people, and indeed teamwork is becoming more and more important in the workplace.’
Ben highlighted the fact that not only is exercise important for academic achievement, but research from the Football Association has shown that grassroots football contributes over £10 billion to society every year, including delivering health savings of £1.6 billion through disease reduction. Research has also shown the role grassroot sport plays in the mental wellbeing of communities, with research showing 200,000 cases of physical and mental disorders, including chronic disease, depression and anxiety being prevented just through grassroots football alone.
The overriding theme of Ben’s speech focussed on his ongoing campaign to ensuring access to high quality sports facilities and the importance roles these play in the community. Not just the pitches, sports halls and other facilities themselves but Ben highlighted the importance of places like clubhouses as well which provide vital community hubs for multiple uses.
A key part of this focus on access to sport facilities is the opening up of school sports facilities. The Sport England database shows that 45% of sports facilities in state-funded schools have public access. Ben described this as a ‘huge missed opportunity when it comes to grassroots sport.’ Ben also stated, ‘If we want to almost double the number of community sports facilities available nationally, the simplest way is surely not to build new ones but to ensure that the ones that already exist are open and available for use.’
Ben also raised the issue of North Notts Hockey Club and the fact that the club has been homeless for 18 months as an example of how schools closing off their sports facilities harms the community at large.
‘It was a pleasure to take part in the debate and highlight the important role of sport in our schools and communities. As a self-confessed sports fanatic and someone who’s original plan was to be a PE teacher, I know all about how vital physical activity is in our schools and the benefits it has for students in academic achievement and social development. The research I highlighted in my speech demonstrates these benefits.’
‘While the importance of sport is not in doubt, too often governments of all colours have neglected the issue of access to high quality sports facilities, with many having closed their doors to the respective clubs. One example of this in Mansfield North Notts Hockey Club who are currently homeless following the pitch they were using being closed to public access.’
‘I have campaigned for a long time for the reopening of school sports facilities with 45% of the facilities at state-funded schools have no public access. If these facilities were to be opened up for use by the community at large we could see an explosion in levels of physical activity across the country and meet government’s goal of doubling the number of community sports facilities. We have many such facilities in and around Mansfield and Warsop which, if opened, would greatly support local clubs such as North Notts Hockey Club.’
‘I will continue to raise this issue and push government to ensure that our communities in Nottinghamshire and Mansfield and Warsop are able to access the high-quality sports facilities we all want to see.’