Every child should have a sporting chance in life

IN JUST over two months, global attention will be focused on Scotland as Glasgow hosts the Commonwealth Games. This is a “once in a generation” opportunity to send a positive message to the rest of the world about our passion for sport and our ability to host a major international event.

Promoting sport for future generations in Scotland is an important aspect of the Games. Picture: Robert Perry
Promoting sport for future generations in Scotland is an important aspect of the Games. Picture: Robert Perry

However, the key message of promoting sport and physical activity for future generations of young people in Scotland is really the most important aspect of this event. While there has been much focus on creating a Games legacy to inspire a new crop of elite athletes, we really need to look at how we change the culture around participating and learning through sport and physical activity for every child in Scotland.

Independent studies show that greater engagement can be extremely beneficial because sport and physical activity has a unique ability to contribute to a healthier, happier and ultimately more successful individual, yet in Scotland we have been unable to increase participation levels in the run-up to the Games and all of us (children and parents) are leading less active lives.

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In an increasingly competitive global marketplace, young Scots will need to be more resilient and confident, better able to quickly adapt to change and handle adversity. The lessons learned through involvement in sport and physical activity are ones which can make a positive difference in meeting these challenges.

Since 2006, the Winning Scotland Foundation charity has been committed to ensuring all young people in Scotland have the opportunity to learn essential life skills through being involved in sport.

On Thursday this week, we are staging the Be Your Personal Best event in Clydebank, where Scotland’s top athletes will meet with pupils aged 11-16 from across the nation to talk about their own experiences and how they achieved personal success.

We will be promoting the theme that young people can succeed in whatever they choose to do by working hard, setting goals and learning from mistakes as part of the effort to deliver real change through encouraging involvement in sport and physical activity. This is the long term legacy we need to continue to create in Scotland beyond the Glasgow Commonwealth Games.

• Morag Arnot is CEO of the Winning Scotland Foundation