Author Archives: Simon Rea

Sure it’s only P.E.

Authored by Bethany Gurr & Emily McDonald, edited by Emily McDonald & Melanie Paterson, researched by Thomas Botfield, Pamela Fabbreschi & Katerina Kubienova, Team Leader: David Senior and Team Moderator: Christine White (E119 19J students)


This blog was written as part of a collaborative team work task by students studying E119. They had to select a topic and then decide on what roles each person would perform in the team, such as researcher, writer, editor and leader. This blog was chosen as one of the best blogs from around 80 blogs that were produced.


https://pixabay.com/photos/sport-child-school-ball-basketball-858206/

Ahhh Mrs Hampton, I won’t forget her. She was my Primary School Physical Education (PE) Teacher and she knew all 625 pupils’ names. We had PE twice a week, the whole year of girls and boys for roughly 45 mins each and I LOVED IT. My mother kept me active as a child, which is why I’m sure I’m not obese now (with the amount I ate!) and remain an active adult years later (yes – I still love my food!). My sister on the other hand despised PE. She was the child always forgot her PE kit, (it was always in the cloakroom) had a headache or felt ill… whereas I opted to wear my sports t-shirt daily, sporting trainers and shorts under my skirt. Everybody is different and has preferences, but Primary School age is where fundamental basics of health are cemented which lead on into adolescence and later adulthood.

Children love to be active, exploring their bodies and what they can do. As a parent of three young children, I’m curious where they get their energy from (perhaps they suck it from me). So, what makes children, like my sister, hate PE? What can teachers, schools and parents do to ensure children meet their daily recommendations of physical activity (PA) and enjoy it?

Luckily for me I was proficient at most sporting activities I attempted, blessed with a competitive nature, gifted with good reflexes and speed with massive determination to be able to do what the older kids could (persuaded my Mother to teach me to ride my bike without stabilisers when my sister did – I was only 3). Yet I understand what it must be like for children with poor reflexes, not-quite-there gross-motor skills, lack of co-ordination and lacking in self-confidence, because that child is my son. Why should I, as a parent, ensure he avails of all PE classes, if he’s not really that good? (Forgive me for telling the truth) … What are the benefits obtainable from PE in schools? Why should children do it?

Apart from health and well-being benefits, these hurdles he and many other children face, can be overcome. From strength, to balance, to hand-eye-co-ordination, bringing forth confidence with each accomplishment achieved. Proven to be beneficial to not only their physical health it encourages social, emotional and mental health development (Moray House School of Education and Sport, 2019) and is integral to future wellbeing.

Those team games were not in vain!

Kelsey E via Flickr Creative Commons https://www.flickr.com/photos/kelseye/786999279

Further to this, research has shown PA induces chemical changes within the brain, encouraging new cells to form which in turn increases the size of the hippocampus, in simple terms the part of the brain that regulates emotion, learning and memory (Human Kinetics, n.d.). These changes are long-lasting, impacting how children think and behave socially, promoting learning which will not only compliment other areas of their education but will also see memory recall improvements.

Let’s explore some more…

The Department of Education recommends children receive as a minimum, 2 hours of PE per week and it is compulsory in the primary curriculum, BUT it is at the school’s discretion how much time they invest in it (Department of Education, n.d.). Luckily my children attend a school that adheres to these minimum requirements but what about quality? Unfortunately, Mrs H (whom I thought didn’t like children very much with her vigorous PE sessions) is no longer a PE teacher and like many other schools, there are no ‘PE teachers’, so who delivers them? The class teacher, yes, teachers are required to conduct their classes PE sessions and it’s reported that they receive on average as little as six hours training during their teacher training on how to deliver PE (Youth Sport Trust, 2018).

SIX HOURS!?!

Surely that cannot be enough to equip any person to undertake an hour-long session with 20 – 30 children?! While that may not be congruent within all schools and to each individual, it is a shocking number to see.

The Daily Mile

https://pixabay.com/photos/marathon-sport-children-run-autumn-1797898/

This sounds torturous to someone who isn’t fond of long distance because of their desire to get things done hastily, resulting in not-so-pleasant regurgitation at completion… (me – a sprinter). This initiative was introduced in 2012 (McIvor, 2018) and research shows that those who partake (walking or running) are significantly healthier than those who don’t. Schools are facilitating children’s ability to surpass the minimum 2 hours of PE in schools!

Some more figures for you…

A shocking 20% and 23% of 5-12-year-old girls and boys respectively, meet the recommended 60 minutes of activity per day and even more alarming is the fact that 1 in 5 children enter primary education overweight or obese! (Public Health England, 2017).

What’s going on?

To put it bluntly, children aren’t meeting their daily activity requirements and childhood obesity is AN ISSUE! Although children are receiving 2-hours PE in school per week, 5 hours are lacking and there’s no other way to say this but that it is on us.

So, should PE classes be compulsory in Primary school?

You have to agree PE is an absolute must. If it’s the only 2 hours of PA some children see a week, how can we contend its importance? Don’t we want our children to grow into young healthy active adults? Educating children on vital social skills, developing personal skills that will hold strong throughout their lives is vital. What is even more important is that parents promote healthy life choices, encourage activity, whether that be walking or cycling to school, family walks on a day out, or extra activities outside school hours like football, gymnastics or swimming.

What remains to be seen is how the Government and Schools implement guidelines. How they develop alternative approaches to how PA is delivered, to provide efficient, more enjoyable times spent in shorts, and ultimately encourage our youngsters to choose themselves to be active.

References

Department of Education. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.education-ni.gov.uk/articles/statutory-curriculum

Human Kinetics. (n.d.). How physical activity and exercise enhance children’s cognition. Retrieved from Human Kinetics Europe: https://uk.humankinetics.com/blogs/excerpts/how-physical-activity-and-exercise-enhance-childrens-cognition

McIvor, J. (2018, May 10). BBC News. Retrieved from BBC: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-44053387

Moray House School of Education and Sport. (2019, July 24th). The University of Edinburgh. Retrieved from https://www.ed.ac.uk/education/rke/centres-groups/pe-research/importance

Public Health England. (2017, July 17). Retrieved from https://www.gov.uk/government/news/number-of-children-getting-enough-physical-activity-drops-by-40

Youth Sport Trust. (2018, May 29). Retrieved from https://www.youthsporttrust.org/news/teachers-need-more-support-nurture-love-pe-and-school-sport

A level playing field – Should Transgender athletes be allowed to compete in the category that matches their gender identity in the 2020 Olympics?

By  Rachael Pugh, Hannah Lake, Sula Douglas, Daniel Breacher and Ryan Williams (E119 19J Students)


This blog was written as part of a collaborative team work task by students studying E119. They had to select a topic and then decide on what roles each person would perform in the team, such as researcher, writer, editor and leader. This blog was chosen as one of the best blogs from around 80 blogs that were produced.


 

The participation of transgender athletes in Olympic competition raises issues not just about sport regulations but of society’s overall attitudes to gender. The whole subject of transgender people can still be divisive and misunderstood in our society. Many people have limited or no contact with transgender people, this can cloud their judgement leading to fear and rumours. From anger over which bathroom people can use, to which clothing a child gets to wear, it is a contentious subject. Transgender participation in sport is a complex issue and may well become more so in the future with the rise of gender neutrality. Sport has long had issues of discrimination and many sports’ governing bodies are working hard to provide fairness and reduce discrimination. Sport in general and the International Olympic Committee in particular, needs to find a way to make participation fair for everyone; transgender athletes as well as cisgender athletes.

One of the main points involved in this discussion is providing equality and equal opportunity for everyone. By excluding transgender athletes from participating in high level events such as the Olympics, we are not promoting equal opportunity. When looking at transgender participation not only high-level athletes need to be considered. Young people often look to athletes as role models. One role model is Laurel Hubbard, a transgender weightlifter, who transitioned from male to female.  After her transition, she went on to successfully compete in the commonwealth games, achieving a record breaking performance in the women’s weightlifting category (Brown, 2018). Kristi Miller, a transgender athlete and activist stated, “Hopefully Laurel’s given some hope to some young trans kid sitting around the world” (Davidson, 2018). Having visible transgender role models for young transgender people is very important – it gives the young people someone to look up to and as a consequence, helps to promote participation in sport for everyone.

However, Laurel’s wins and participation have created some controversy amongst other female competitors and their coaches. Jerry Wallwork, Head Coach for the Samoa weightlifting team said, “A man is a man and a woman is a woman and I know a lot of changes have gone through, but in the past Laurel Hubbard used to be a male champion weightlifter” (Davidson, 2018). Wallwork’s comments illustrate the issue of how gender is viewed in society and how often transgender people are not accepted. If more transgender athletes were allowed to compete – this would result in society being exposed to more transgender people in the media.  This exposure would allow them to become more accepted and allow young transgender people to be inspired and participate in sport.

Conversely, there is the issue of fairness for female athletes – how being transgender may give athletes an advantage over other female competitors particularly in the case of Laurel Hubbard who used to compete as a male weightlifter.  “The athletic advantage that Hubbard herself gleaned suggests as much. As a man, the Kiwi scarcely registered in the sport at international level. Today, as a woman, she is a world-beater,” (Brown, 2018).

Currently athletes who have transitioned from female to male can compete without restriction (BBC, 2019). However, for an athlete who has transitioned from male to female it is much more difficult. This is mainly because officials are trying to make it fair for all the female cisgender competitors and there are many physiological differences between males and females. These physiological differences are why we have separate male and female categories in sport in the first place. On average women have two thirds the strength of men, have smaller bones and a lower oxygen carrying capacity (Latham, 2018). The benefits of these physiological differences mean that men are usually stronger, faster and bigger. Not all of these physiological differences can be managed in the medical transitional process, therefore some of the advantages of being born male, remain in the transgender athlete.

When examining the difference between male and female bodies the issue of testosterone is often discussed. In order for a transgender athlete to compete as a female the IOC guideline from 2015 states “the total testosterone level in serum must be kept below ten nanomoles per litre for at least 12 months” (Ingle, 2019) however this is controversial as “women’s testosterone levels tend to range between 0.12 and 1.79 nmol/l, while men’s are typically between 7.7 to 29.4 nmol/l.” (Ingle, 2019). This means that transgender athletes, even those following the IOC Guidelines, could have testosterone levels up to 5 times higher than most female athletes. Higher levels of testosterone increase muscle mass and reduce fatigue both of which are important when competing at a high level of sport (Pietrangelo, 2016).

Many high profile athletes feel passionately about the potential damage to female sport when transgender athletes compete. Sharon Davies, the internationally renowned and celebrated swimmer, said ““I believe there is a fundamental difference between the binary sex you are born with and the gender you may identify as. To protect women’s sport, those with a male sex advantage should not be able to compete in women’s sport.” (Ingle, 2020). These higher levels of testosterone and other physiological advantages mean that cisgender women could have a disadvantage when competing against transgender women.

To conclude, on the one hand society now recognises peoples’ right to change gender however it is very difficult to create a level playing field in some areas and competitive sport is very much one of these. The question of how transgender people compete in Olympic events raises issues of equality of opportunity and fairness of competition. The sports’ governing bodies are attempting to address the issues of physical fairness through regulation but this is not a straight forward process. Scientific development may be ahead of society’s ability to regulate for its consequences in this area. Given the diversity of genders and people in our society this may be an area for adapting and compromising in 2020 and beyond.

 

REFERENCES

Davidson, H (2018) Transgender weightlifter Laurel Hubbard’s eligibility under scrutiny (Online) The Guardian. Available at https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2018/apr/09/transgender-weightlifter-laurel-hubbards-eligibility-under-scrutiny (Accessed 28 January 2020)

Latham, A (2018). Physiological difference between male and female athletes. (online). (last updated 28 June 2018). Available at: https://work.chron.com/physiological-differences-between-male-female-athletes-20627.html (Accessed 27 January 2020)

Pietrangelo, A (2016) How testosterone benefits your body (Online)  Healthline. Available at https://www.healthline.com/health/benefits-testosterone (Accessed 29 January 2020)

Brown, O (2018). Transgender weightlifter under strain: Laurel Hubbard’s exit may be blessing in disguise as eligibility debate rages (Online) The Telegraph. Available at https://www.telegraph.co.uk/weightlifting/2018/04/09/transgender-weightlifter-strain-laurel-hubbards-exit-may-blessing/ (Accessed 29 Jan, 2020)

Ingle, S. (2019). IOC delays new transgender guidelines after scientists fail to agree. [online] The Guardian. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2019/sep/24/ioc-delays-new-transgender-guidelines-2020-olympics [Accessed 28 January 2020].

Eliud Kipchoge: Breaking Barriers

By Sean Byrne, Sam Cross, Anthony Delaney, Ashley Groombridge, Katie Hickson, Louis Hunter (E119 19J Students)


This blog was written as part of a collaborative team work task by students studying E119. They had to select a topic and then decide on what roles each person would perform in the team, such as researcher, writer, editor and leader. This blog was chosen as one of the best blogs from around 80 blogs that were produced.


 

 On the 12th October 2019, Eliud Kipchoge, the current marathon world record holder, became the first person to run the marathon distance under two hours (1.59.40). This incredible accomplishment has been hailed as one of the most monumental milestones in running history, alongside Sir Roger Bannister’s sub 4-minute mile and Usain Bolt’s 9.58 100 metre sprint world record.

So how did he achieve this remarkable feat? Natural talent, dedication and a gruelling training programme, with 140 miles per week, are the understandable foundations of success. Indubitably, the support from an assembled team of skilled coaches, physiotherapists, physiologists and nutritionists overseeing his training, physiological testing, hydration and nutrition strategies (INEOS159challenge , 2019) contributed immensely but what specifically turned his previous failings at the Nike Breaking2 Project, into triumph?

Course selection

The Pater, Vienna, Austria was selected as the perfect location. As one would expect, the route was carefully chosen to eliminate any directional or incline changes to maximise the runners’ economy but Team INEOS’ analysis didn’t stop there. They also considered the altitude and climate; low temperatures (around ten degrees Celsius is considered the benchmark) and low humidity is conducive to running a fast marathon due to the body working harder to regulate its temperature in hot conditions (Sharkey & Gaskill, 2013). It is also believed that running shoes lose grip during humid conditions. (INOES159challenge, 2019). The location also had to be at low altitude, even though Kipchoge lives and trains at high altitude (2400m), science suggests preparing at altitude enables the body to be better conditioned (Fudge, et al., 2018) and racing at a lower altitude whilst acclimated to high altitude will see an increase in performance (Fudge, et al., 2018)The final factor in choosing the location was the time zone difference, Vienna is just one hour behind Eliud’s home time zone- which means his sleeping, eating and training patterns would be minimally affected.

Hydration and Nutrition

 As anticipated, running a marathon requires an enormous amount of energy, this energy is provided by fat and carbohydrates, metabolised aerobically. Fat is supplied from the muscle triglyceride and plasma free fatty acids (FFA), that are mobilised from adipose tissue and transported to the muscles by the circulation (Sharkey & Gaskill, 2013).  Fat is the most abundant source of available energy – enough to fuel muscles to run hundreds of miles but it is slow to break down (Wright, 2018), therefore, as the intensity level increases so does the carbohydrate usage, becoming predominant at high levels of intensity (Sharkey & Gaskill, 2013) i.e. running a marathon at pace.  Carbohydrate is available as glucose in the bloodstream and is also stored in skeletal muscles and the liver as glycogen (Girard Eberle, 2014). Kipchoge’s carbohydrates were topped up during the race by consuming sports drinks and energy gels produced by Maurten (Maurten, 2019).

Rehydrating during the marathon is crucial, dehydration in excess of five per cent of an athlete’s bodyweight results in a decrease in strength, endurance and work capacity (Sharkey & Gaskill, 2013). The ASCM et al. (2016) state that even though exact sweat rates vary from athlete to athlete, most athletes partaking in exercise will require an intake of 0.4 – 0.8 litres of water every hour. Kipchoge rehydrated by drinking Maurten sports drinks, a benefit of consuming a sports drink over water, is that sports drinks contain electrolytes including sodium and potassium – minerals that are crucial for the control of the flow of water in and out of cells and are vital to ensure fluid retention. Furthermore, research has shown that isotonic drinks can be absorbed faster than water alone (Wright, 2018).

Pacemakers

Sir Roger Bannister’s name is entrenched in running history, his exploit legendary yet he couldn’t have achieved the remarkable feat without being paced by friends and teammates. Eliud Kipchoge also enlisted the help of teammates, forty-one of the world’s best middle and long-distance runners to be precise (INEOS159challenge, 2019). These runners rotated at the end of each six-mile lap, followed an electric car with adapted cruise control for greater accuracy. The car projected a laser beam onto the road to keep the runners on the required pace. After extensive aerodynamic research conducted at TU Eindhoven, the pacemakers ran in a reversed V shape, with two runners running behind him, this led to a 85% reduction in air resistance (Eindhoven University of Technology, 2019).

The controversial running shoes

Nike created a bespoke, improved version of their previous Vaporfly Next% running shoes – the AlphaFLY. The AlphaFLY have four chambers containing pressurised fluid, three carbon plates and ZoomX – a lightweight foam, providing cushioning (Roe, 2019). Nike claim the shoes improve running economy by four percent and this claim has been verified by an independent study (Barnes & Kilding, 2019). A variation of the shoe has been worn by the top 10 finishers in the mens’ race at the Chicago Marathon, the following day. In addition, Brigid Kosgei, who broke Paula Radcliffe’s long standing women’s marathon world record in Chicago, also wore the shoe. Subsequently, a group of athletes complained to the IAAF about the shoes, prompting them to establish a working group to analysis the issue.

Spectators

After evaluating the Breaking2 Project’s failed attempt at Monza Racetrack, Italy, Kipchoge bemoaned the lack of spectators to support his phenomenal effort. Positive support from spectators can lead to increased performance (Lavellee, et al., 2012). During his attempt at the INEOS 1:59 Challenge, the route was lined by masses of supporters cheering him to greatness.

Unfortunately, his Herculean effort is not recognised as a marathon world record by the IAAF, due to the delivery of hydration and nutrition by bicycle, lack of open competition and rotating world class runners, working as pacemakers (BBC, 2019) but now the barrier has been broken, it’s only a matter of time before an athlete runs sub two hours during a race.

References

American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), 2016. American Dietetic Association (ADA) and Dieticians of Canada (DC) (2016) Joint Position Statement, ‘Nutrition and athletic performance. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 48(3), p. 543–568.

Barnes, K. R. & Kilding, A. E., 2019. A Randomized Crossover Study Investigating the Running Economy of Highly-Trained Male and Female Distance Runners in Marathon Racing Shoes versus Track Spikes., Bethesda MD: National Center for Biotechnology Information.

BBC, 2019. Eliud Kipchoge breaks two-hour marathon mark by 20 seconds. [Online]
Available at: https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/athletics/50025543
[Accessed 27 January 2020].

Eindhoven University of Technology, 2019. TU/e wind tunnel helped break the marathon’s two-hour barrier. [Online]
Available at: https://www.tue.nl/en/news/news-overview/tue-wind-tunnel-helped-break-the-marathons-two-hour-barrier/#top [Accessed 27 January 2020].

Fudge, B., Pringle, J., Maxwell, N. & Richardson, A., 2018. Altitude training in endurance running: perceptions of elite athletes and support staff. Journal of Sports Sciences, 37(2), pp. 163-172.

INEOS159challenge , 2019. Eluid’s Team. [Online]
Available at: https://www.ineos159challenge.com/team/eliuds-team/
[Accessed 26 January 2020].

INEOS159challenge, 2019. Pacemakers. [Online]
Available at: https://www.ineos159challenge.com/team/pacemakers/
[Accessed 26 January 2020].

INOES159challenge, 2019. Why Vienna proved to be the outstanding candidate to host the Ineos 1:59 Challenge?. [Online]
Available at: https://www.ineos159challenge.com/news/why-vienna-proved-to-be-the-outstanding-candidate-to-host-the-ineos-1-59-challenge/
[Accessed 27 January 2020].

Lavellee, D., Kremer, J., Moran, A. & Williams, M., 2012. Sport Psychology: Contemporary Themes. 2nd ed. London: Red Globe Press.

Maurten, 2019. SHOP SPORTS FUEL. [Online]
Available at: https://www.maurten.com/products/gb
[Accessed 27 January 202].

Roe, D., 2019. Everything We Know About Eliud Kipchoge’s Barrier Breaking Shoes. [Online]
Available at: https://www.runnersworld.com/gear/a29447426/eliud-kipchoge-shoes/
[Accessed 27 January 2020].

Sharkey, B. J. & Gaskill, S. E., 2013. Fitness & Health. 7th ed. Champaign: Human Kinetics.

Wright, N., 2018. Unit 29 How nutrition fuels the athlete’s body. [Online]
Available at: https://learn2.open.ac.uk/mod/oucontent/view.php?id=1287358
(Accessed 18 May 2019).

 

Can surfing improve mental health?

By Chris Bodell, Jennifer Brand, Archie Collins, Paul Downing, Charlie Edwards and Clare Elliott (E119 19J Students)


This blog was written as part of a collaborative team work task by students studying E119. They had to select a topic and then decide on what roles each person would perform in the team, such as researcher, writer, editor and leader. This blog was chosen as one of the best blogs from around 80 blogs that were produced.


So, can surfing help improve our mental health? Let’s take a look and see how it turned
Jessica Cox’s’ life around.

Jessica Cox revealed in an interview with the BBC (2018) that she had suffered from numerous mental health issues throughout her life including anxiety, family bereavement, post- natal depression and bullying. She explains that she got in with the wrong crowd from an early age of 11, leading to drug and alcohol issues.”I would absolutely say I was at a turning point where if I had got in one more bit of trouble at school I would have been expelled; if I had got arrested one more time I would have got taken into juvenile prison.” (BBC, 2018)

Jessica says the sea saved her and has turned her life around. Jessica sourced a board and
wetsuit and began surfing, “You feel afterwards the feelings of vibrancy and life; it is
unexplainable. You’re just at one with nature, and nature never judges you” (BBC, 2018).
Jessica went on to gain qualifications to teach people to surf, spreading her love of surfing.
“You can feel tired of life and all the things that are going on, and you get into the water and
it literally washes the anxiety away… you feel this release,” (BBC 2018).

Seeing first-hand the positive effects the sea and surfing can have on the mind, mixing the
calming nature of the ocean with the physiological benefits of surfing, Jessica took her
experiences and knowledge and founded Sirens. Sirens offers surfing lessons and retreats to
women of all ages and abilities. They work with other charities to reach out to vulnerable
women and organise community events aimed at people suffering with mental health
conditions, it allows people to get involved in yoga and even learn how to surf. Sirens is a nonprofit organisation meaning that any profits made go back into the company, making them
able to offer their services to disadvantaged or vulnerable women and girls.

You can find out more about Jessica’s own journey, along with her journey helping others by
visiting: https://www.inspiresirens.org/

There are many examples on how mixing the benefits of the physical activity of surfing and
being in the ocean are having positive effects on a person’s mental wellbeing!
The Wave Project is a community interest company that aims to change young people’s lives
through surfing, it started as a NHS funded project where 20 young people, diagnosed with a
range of mental health disorders, met on the beach for a surfing lesson. After surfing
participants felt less angry, calmer and more connected with one another. One person who
had been diagnosed with selective mutism even began speaking freely again! The wave
project has over 900 volunteers and has joined 6 other surf therapy programmes around the
world to form the International Surf Therapy Organisation (ISTO)! (Waveproject, 2020).
An initiative called Blue Health analysed 35 scientific studies of how blue spaces, i.e. ocean,
lakes etc, benefit our health and wellbeing. They found that interaction with blue spaces has
a positive effect on mental health, especially reducing stress.

One study that blue health completed involved using technology to bring 360-degree videos
using a virtual reality headset to those where natural blue spaces were inaccessible. This
technology was also able benefit elderly or disabled people or those with certain medical
conditions (Bluehealth, 2020).

The Blue Mind Theory explains the mildly meditative state we enter when we are in, near or
under water, comparative to the Red mind state which describes our state of mind while
suffering from mental health problems. Scientists are evaluating the physical and
“Siren’s aim to offer a supportive, all female environment where you can be inspired by your own abilities, other women, and the environment that surrounds us.” (sirens, 2017).

When researching the psychological effects of water, they found that being by the coast leads to an improved sense of physical health and well-being. Livni (2018) states that “contact with the water induces the meditative state that makes us happier, healthier, calmer, more creative and
more capable of awe”.

“The idea water is medicine will be mainstream within 10 years” (Nicholls, W. 2015).

Surfertoday, a surfing magazine is aimed at current and prospective surfers and promotes the
health and physiological benefits of surfing, but may well be biased. But as we can see earlier
in the blog, there is research and real-life evidence showing: –
“Surfing not only improves your physical fitness, but it also clears your mind and acts as an
emotional stabilizer. Its Zen effect soothes the mind and balances your emotion’s. Those who
actively engage in surfing, know that it reduces stress, boosts our mood, and even helps us
overcome loss nor grief.” (Surfertoday, 2020).

For more information about how surfing can improve your mental health, visit Surfertoday’s
article at: https://www.surfertoday.com/surfing/how-surfing-improves-your-mental-health

Competing in Saudi Arabia: A Moral Controversy

By Lucy Kafourous-Smith, Daniel Morrison, Sam Hughes, Kyle Murray, Sean Gilfillan, Rebecca Murphy and Sam Hughes-Finn (E119 19J Students)


This blog was written as part of a collaborative team work task by students studying E119. They had to select a topic and then decide on what roles each person would perform in the team, such as researcher, writer, editor and leader. This blog was chosen as one of the best blogs from around 80 blogs that were produced.


 

Vision 2030: Saudi Arabia’s ambitious, pervasive overhaul of its economy and society put into motion since 2016. It paints a picture of a nation keen to refurbish its global image and integrate itself with the western world – no small feat considering its historical rejection of western culture, and strict implementation of Islamic laws and values. Aggressive investment into sport has particularly attracted mass media interest as the nation strikes deals for world-class events, such as the boxing rematch of Anthony Joshua and Andy Ruiz Jr held in December 2019, the European Tour for golf, as well as F1 gearing up for Saudi participation in the coming years. The speed at which entirely new venues are being constructed for these events, also reflects the extent of this ambition. Construction of the Diriyah arena for Joshua v Ruiz began a mere two months before the fight.

However, the kingdom’s political track record has roused many sceptics and caused a controversial backlash. Sporting organisations and athletes are facing waves of scrutiny, often being accused of supporting the ambitions of a nation that has an extensive list of human rights abuses under its belt. Human rights group Amnesty International (2019) describes such acts including – but not limited to – repressing government critics, and human rights campaigners with prison sentences; extensive use of the death penalty and state-imposed torture for conduct that isn’t recognised as crime under international law; and continued discrimination against women, LGBTI groups, and the Shi’a Muslim minority. Not to forget the widely reported murder of Arabian journalist Jamal Kashoggi in Istanbul back in 2018, for which the Saudi government were held responsible (Aljazerra News, 2019). Amnesty’s critique resulted in them coining the term ‘sportswashing’ to describe the perceived attempt to use high-profile sport to furnish over these offences. Despite that, purely focusing on historical events would limit the chance of successful future sporting events, and any positive cultural change, however uncomfortable the decision may be.

Prior to his fight, Anthony Joshua was interviewed on the decision to fight in Saudi Arabia, where he simply stated: “My only focus is just the boxing”, but incited scrutiny by commenting that “the country is trying to do a good job politically”(BBC 2019). It would seem he desires to stay politically neutral and is happy to fight and promote his sport wherever it may take him. However, when asked about the possibility of ‘sportswashing’, he replied: “…I would be bothered” (BBC, 2019). He also admits that the decision to fight in Saudi Arabia was a collective one taken by his organizers, as well as his promotor, Eddie Hearn, admitting that the choice to fight there was primarily motivated by the sizable financial offer, leading many to believe that he is being manipulated by money.

Conversely, golfing superstars Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods opted out of participating in the Saudi-hosted European Tour, but state that their decision was not politically influenced. Despite this, McIlroy commented that: “…there’s a morality to it as well” (The Guardian, 2019) but makes the interesting point that there are other countries with political stains where these events are held. Woods notably defended golf’s participation in Saudi Arabia by saying: “I understand the politics behind it but also golf can help heal a lot of that too” (Gray, 2019). Interestingly, Woods turned down a $3m appearance fee offer (Gray, 2019), and McIlroy refused to deny that a similar offer of $2.5m was made to him (The Guardian, 2019), causing many to raise sceptical eyebrows at the copious financial offers in place to persuade key players to simply participate.

In football, the Spanish Super Cup has gone as far as significantly changing its format for the foreseeable future as it holds its next innings in Saudi Arabia. Moving from a 2-team to a 4-team line-up and holding the event in January instead of the pre-season Summer, caused a stir. Yet again, the main motivation for such a shift is believed to be the amount of money flowing. As stated by the BBC (2020) the Spanish media reported a yearly worth of 40m euros. Despite Barcelona benefitting from a 6m-euro cash-in, the team’s coach, Ernesto Valverde, expressed discontent as he preferred the old format from a sporting point of view, and affirms that the 6m offer was the deciding factor for the change (BBC, 2020). However, this deal came with the condition that women were allowed to attend the event – an intriguing outcome from a country that has typically segregated women. Similarly, the Italian Suppercoppa showed positive developments, by allowing women to enter the stadium, albeit form the family enclosures only (Burnton, 2019). But this move signalled the start of culture change, which would allow women the same rights as men, even if it is for a 90-minute game of football.

Formula 1 also has its sights set with a $50m per year Grand Prix deal on the table which could kick off as early as 2021, with a purpose-built circuit being constructed for 2022 (Benson, 2020). Mcevoy (2020) identifies The Grand Prix event is no stranger to countries with unfavourable human rights records as it has previously been hosted by the likes of Abu Dhabi, Russia, and China, but it attempts to deflect criticism by insisting that it is politically neutral. Part of the “vision 2030” plan includes Saudi Arabia holding the desert round of the new Extreme E championships -electric off-road SUV (Auto sport 2019). Criticism to holding it here is defended by its founder, Alejandro Agag, who supports the positive changes occurring in Saudi Arabia, and how it can help strengthen the sporting pillar of vison 2030.

With a variety of perspectives to consider, we may justifiably ponder if the Saudi government is heart-felt in redeeming itself from past mistakes, or if they are leveraging their great wealth to simply ‘gloss over’ its most fundamental flaws. Regarding the athletes themselves, do we judge them as aiding a possibly dishonest regime change, or do we praise them for attempting to bring positivity, and culture to a troubled country?

Reference list

Aljazerra News (2019) ‘Khashoggi’s murder: one year on, here’s what we know’, Aljazerra, 1 October [Blog]. Available at https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/09/year-jamal-khashoggi-murder-190930100740798.html (Accessed 6 January 2020).

Amnesty International (2018) Saudi Arabia 2018 [online]. Available at https://www.amnesty.org/en/countries/middle-east-and-north-africa/saudi-arabia/report-saudi-arabia/ (Accessed on 6 January 2020).

BBC (2019) ‘Joshua v Ruiz II: Anthony Joshua responds to ‘sportswashing” Saudi human rights claims’, BBC, 5 December [Blog]. Available at https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/boxing/50633807 (Accessed 7 January 2020).

BBC (2019) ‘Joshua v Ruiz II: 15,000-seat Diriyah Arena venue revealed’, BBC, 26 November [Blog]. Available at https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/boxing/50557116 (Accessed 8 January 2020).

BBC (2019) ‘Spanish Super Cup – who, why and where?’, BBC, 8 January, [Blog]. Available at https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/football/51013150 (Accessed 8 January 2020).

BBC (2019) ‘Spanish Super Cup: We are in Saudi Arabia because of money, says Barcelona boss Valverde’, BBC 8 January, [Blog]. Available at https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/football/51042079 (Accessed 8 January 2020).

Benson, A. (2020) BBC [online]. Available at https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/formula1/51137520 (Accessed 17 January 2020).

Burnton, S. (2019) The Guardian [online]. Available at https://www.theguardian.com/football/2019/jan/13/supercoppa-controversy-rages-saudi-arabia-treatment-women-jamal-khashoggi (Accessed 16 January 2020).

Grey, W. (2019) Golf channel [online]. Available at https://www.golfchannel.com/news/report-tiger-woods-turned-down-appearance-fee-saudi-arabia-event (Accessed 7 January 2020).

Kalinauckas, A. (2019) Auto Sport [online]. Available at https://www.autosport.com/fe/news/146900/saudi-arabia-to-host-extreme-e-desert-round (Accessed 28 January 2020).

Mcevoy, J. (2020) Daily Mail [online]. Available at https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/sportsnews/article-7882935/F1-poised-join-Saudi-sportswash-50m-year-deal-table.html (Accessed 16 January 2020).

Ordonez, V. (2019) ABC News [online]. Available at https://abcnews.go.com/International/clash-dunes-saudi-arabia-fights-overcome-criticism-controversy/story?id=67562255 (Accessed 28 December 2019).

PA Media (2019) The Guardian [online]. Available at https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2019/dec/10/rory-mcilroy-says-morality-played-part-turning-down-saudi-arabia-event-golf (Accessed 3 January 2020).

Saudi Gazette (2014) Al Arabia[online]. Available at http://english.alarabiya.net/en/perspective/features/2016/04/26/Full-text-of-Saudi-Arabia-s-Vision-2030.html (Accessed 8 January 2020).

Three things you can do to make the most of your studies

By Simon Rea

Firstly, welcome to The Open University and I hope you enjoy your studies with us. You have started on an exciting path of study and hopefully a rewarding future career. There are great opportunities to work in grass roots sport, performance sport, health and fitness, coaching and teaching and exercise science. However, sport and fitness courses are now one of the most popular undergraduate courses studied at university. There are now over 80 higher education institutions offering degrees and around 15,000 students graduating every year. While there are good jobs available the competition is very strong even before you consider the number of students studying for Masters degrees and PhDs.

Employers recognise that Open University students have to show special skills to organise their busy lives, hold down a job and plan their studies. However, that may not be enough to make you stand out from the crowd when it comes to applying for jobs. You need to be competitive in the job market and this may involve you showing skills beyond those of achieving a degree.

Between 2017 and 2019 I interviewed over 20 people currently working in sport and fitness occupations to find out what skills and qualities are needed to work effectively in sport and fitness roles. Many of the respondents explained how sport and fitness environments can be complex and challenging. This is because they involve people but also people who are goal directed and often high achievers. Sports environments tend to be highly pressurised and constantly changing and you need particular skills to navigate through them. You need to have skills to work with people who may be your colleagues or your clients. Being able to develop and maintain relationships is central to your success in sport and fitness.

In this blog I offer three tips that will help to improve your employability and effectiveness when you are in the workplace.

1. Get as much experience as you can from wherever you can.

Everyone I interviewed stressed the importance of gaining experience. All experience of working with people is valuable because you can then learn about your communication, listening and other personal skills. However, the main reason is that it is the best way to develop skills that are needed in the workplace. The only way to show an employer that you can do a job is by showing them that you have done it before. If you have spent the previous three or more years studying, then you can show that you have the knowledge but there is no evidence that you will be able to apply it in real life situations.

Experience can come from work experience placements or internships or you can volunteer at local sports clubs and offer to help. This may involve setting up equipment, helping with timings or preparing and handling out drinks. Once you are in a sports environment there may be opportunities to share your knowledge with coaches and athletes.

In addition to gaining experience you also need to be able to learn from your experiences by reflecting or reviewing them. This can be done by asking yourself reflective questions or discussing your performance with other people. This reflective approach is covered in module E119.

2. Gain as much knowledge as you can about as many disciplines in sports science as possible.

While I said that knowledge alone may not get you a job it is still incredibly important when working in sport and fitness. The study of sport is multidisciplinary in that it involves anatomy and physiology, exercise physiology, sport psychology, biomechanics, nutrition as well as research skills. During your studies with us you will cover all these disciplines and also learn about coaching and instructional skills. However, due to the wide scope of your studies you may not cover everything in detail. Firstly, I would encourage you to engage with all the module resources and further reading where it is suggested but also read widely in relevant textbooks, journal articles and respected websites. Listen to as many sports related podcasts and watch programmes that can contribute to your learning.

By taking in as much knowledge as you can you will start to learn about the range of occupations in sport and fitness and the knowledge that different specialists will have. In performance sport the support team may be made up of exercise physiologists, sport psychologists, performance analysts, strength and conditioning coaches, nutritionists and it is important to understand what these people are saying so that you can develop working relationships with them. As a fitness trainer you may be called upon to advise on nutrition and psychology as well as training methods and the more you know about these disciplines the greater credibility you will have.

3. Find opportunities to share your knowledge.

One way to gain experience and apply your new-found knowledge is to offer advice and support to friends and family. You need to remember that most people don’t know about things we may consider to be basic, such as how to stretch, how to train effectively and what to eat. There are also a lot of fallacies or misunderstandings about the best way to train and recover and you can provide the science to address these.

As you progress in your studies you will be able to offer advice to people. For example, you may have a friend who wants to run a half marathon, complete the London to Brighton cycle ride or start training at the gym. You can let them know that you are studying sport and fitness and would like to advise them. You could write a blog about what you have been doing and make social media posts about their progress. This may lead to other people asking for your advice.

This type of activity is useful as a learning experience and also understanding how your new-found knowledge can be put into practice. It may mimic the type of work you will do in the future and be something that you could discuss in an interview.

These three things will help to enhance your employability skills and bring your knowledge to life.

This article is based on content from Simon’s recently published book Careers in Sports Science. In this book Simon Rea presents the findings of 20 interviews with people working in sports science roles. This includes the personal skills needed to work in sport and more advice about how to develop these skills. This book is available as a paperback or eBook at www.simonreasportscience.co.uk or through the Amazon bookstore search ‘Careers in Sports Science’.

Why racism is still only being shown a yellow card

By Rojo Warriors – John Dougal, Gavin Dunlop, Okito Gonzales, Conor Langford and Jamie Morrison (E119 18J Students)


This blog was written as part of a collaborative team work task by students studying E119. They had to select a topic and then decide on what roles each person would perform in the team, such as researcher, writer, editor and leader. This blog was chosen as one of the best blogs from around 80 blogs that were produced.


I instantly felt uncomfortable. The moment I walked into one of Europe’s grandest theatres, I looked up to my right, a normal man, someone’s Father, Grandfather, Brother, was casually unfurling a huge flag. Yes, this is a common sight in any football stadium, however, it was what was on the flag that was disturbing, stopping me dead in my tracks. A huge image of The Wehrmacht Eagle (Nazi Imperial Eagle) Symbol appeared before me. Little did I know this was only the start of my ‘experience.’

Photo by Liam McKay on Unsplash

The setting was Rome’s Stadio Olimpico, where The Derby della Capitale (AS Roma v Lazio) was about to take place. An image of Lazio’s most famous fan, Benito Mussolini covered the away section, while chants of ‘Seig Heil’ rang around the sea of straight-armed saluting ‘fans’. This place made an Old Firm game look like a tea party. Disgusted by what I was seeing, I somehow managed to ignore it, what I could not ignore happened with just 10 minutes to go in the game. Roma’s Brazilian defender, Juan, received the ball, when all of a sudden a deafening sound of monkey chants erupted from the Lazio fans, the next time he got the ball, five to ten inflatable bananas appeared with grown men impersonating monkeys. What struck me was there were sections of people looking at us in disgust and judging us for not joining in, as if we were in the wrong. What I could not believe was, the next day, not a thing in the newspapers about it, nothing on the news channels, it was just accepted this is what happens.

That was back in 2011, fast forward seven years and nothing seems to have improved. Boxing Day 2018, Inter host Napoli in Milan in what should be a celebration of Italian football, between two of the country’s most entertaining teams. However, what followed put a massive stain on the league. Throughout what was the stand out Christmas fixture, sections of the Inter crowd inflicted sustained racial abuse on Napoli defender Kalidou Koulibaly, with the Senegal International visibly upset throughout the game in which he was ultimately sent off.

How was this ordeal dealt with? The Italian Football Federation (FIGC) have ignored criticism and upheld a two-match ban for Napoli defender Kalidou Koulibaly for a red card in the game in Milan on Wednesday when he was subjected to racist monkey chants from the Inter fans (Wallace, 2018a). On top of that Inter Milan have been ordered to play their next two Serie A games behind closed doors, and close part of the stadium for one further game following racial abuse aimed at Napoli’s Kalidou Koulibaly on Boxing Day (Gladwell, 2018). It is hardly a strong stance in stamping out racism, is it? It is merely a slap on the wrists. How do you explain to young kids watching at home, when they ask, “Why is there no fans in the stadium?” or they ask why they cannot go to watch their heroes because of a fan ban? Perhaps they should take heed of Napoli head coach Carlo Ancelotti who demanded the game be called off. “Despite our requests, the game wasn’t suspended. I think it should have been. Next time we’ll stop playing ourselves” (Wallace, 2018b).

Despite having a terrible reputation It’s not just in Italy of course. No country is free of racism – as was demonstrated by the banana skin thrown during the recent north London derby, and the reports of anti-Semitic chanting by Chelsea fans in December (Jones, 2018). The problem of racism in the UK seems to have been highlighted once again with several incidents so far during the 2018/19 season.

Former Liverpool and England star John Barnes recently commented; “The very fact that a real banana skin came on and there was real abuse doesn’t surprise me at all. I just thought it was to be expected” (Independent, 2018)

The fact that Barnes “expected” this sort of behaviour is rather alarming, and suggests that more needs to be done out with football too, to educate society from a young age. Nobody is born racist so they must learn it and pick it up from somewhere, as the recently surfaced very disturbing video of the young Millwall ‘fan’ shows. (Unbelievable! Millwall Racist Woman Teaching a KID To Chant, 2019)

In the UK, the Show Racism the Red Card, an educational charity, was launched in January 1996. The Kick It Out organisation was launched three years earlier. What is worrying is that over 25 years later the problem is still there. With Statistics from Kick It Out, football’s equality and inclusion organisation, reveal an increase in reports for the sixth consecutive year. Racism constituted 53% of them during the 2017/18 season, a rise of 22% from the previous year (Kick It Out, 2018).

With these campaigns in place, why are the stats still rising?
The simple fact is that more needs to be done. It is all very well having these campaigns such as Nike’s ‘Stand Up Speak Up’ campaign that launched in 2005, which received strong criticism from certain players. Gary Neville has criticised Nike for looking to gain commercial advantage from football’s latest anti-racism campaign (The Telegraph, 2005). The criticism comes as Nike were selling black and white wristbands which became more of a must-have fashion accessory rather than a tool to promote standing up against racism.

It is all very well closing stadiums, fining clubs or arresting people, the fact is, it is clearly not working. I feel anti-racism education should be on school curriculums so children are educated from an early age. I also believe the only way to stop it happening now is to go back to what Napoli coach Carlo Ancelotti suggested and players simply walk off the park with the game being postponed, that would soon stop these so-called ‘fans’ disgusting behaviour. Finally, I feel the police and clubs should work together to name and shame the people that are guilty of these crimes, ensuring their family and employers are aware of their actions. We need to stop giving racism the yellow card and once and for all show it the red card.

Reference List

Gladwell. B. (2018) ‘Inter Milan given two match stadium closure after Koulibaly monkey chants’, ESPN, 27 December 2018 [Online]. Available at http://www.espn.co.uk/soccer/napoli/story/3737523/inter-milan-given-two-match-stadium-closure-after-koulibaly-monkey-chants (Accessed at 26 January 2019)

Independent (2018) ‘Raheem Sterling Chelsea abuse: Invisible banana skins thrown at black people every day, says John Barnes’, Independent, 11 December 2018 [Online]. Available at https://www.independent.co.uk/sport/football/news-and-comment/raheem-sterling-chelsea-abuse-racism-news-video-twitter-instagram-racist-statement-john-barnes-a8677516.html (Accessed 26 January 2019)

Jones, T. (2018) ‘Fascism is thriving again in Italy, – and finding it’s home on the terraces’, The

Guardian, 29 December [Online]. Available at https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/dec/29/fascism-italy-racist-abuse-kalidou-koulibaly-italian-football (Accessed at 26 January 2019)

Kick It Out (2018), Available at https://www.kickitout.org/Pages/FAQs/Category/reporting-statistics (Accessed 26 January 2018)

Sky Sports (2018) ‘Chelsea suspend four supporters over alleged Raheem Sterling abuse’, Sky Sports, 11 December 2018 [Online]. Available at https://www.skysports.com/football/news/11668/11577275/chelsea-suspend-four-supporters-over-alleged-raheem-sterling-abuse

The Telegrapgh (2005) ‘Neville attacks Nike PR’, The Telegraph, 10 February 2005 [Online]. Available at https://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/2355144/Neville-attacks-Nike-PR.html (Accessed 27 January 2019)

Unbelievable! Millwall Racist Woman Teaching a KID To Chant, (2019) YouTube video, added by Team PKO [Online]. Available at https://youtu.be/HmaqX4p0yYM (Accessed 28 January 2019) WARNING Very disturbing language.

Wallace, S (2018a) ‘Kalidou Koulibaly given two-match ban despite being subject to racist monkey chants’, The Telegraph, 27 December 2018 [Online]. Available at https://www.telegraph.co.uk/football/2018/12/27/carlo-ancelotti-says-inter-milan-napoli-should-have-stopped/amp/ (Accessed at 27 January 2019)

How can schools make sport the foundation of culture and society?

By Russell Dyas, Dean Ellis, Emma Hardwicke and Kevin Smith (E119 18J Students)


This blog was written as part of a collaborative team work task by students studying E119. They had to select a topic and then decide on what roles each person would perform in the team, such as researcher, writer, editor and leader. This blog was chosen as one of the four best blogs from around 80 blogs that were produced.


Research acknowledges the benefits of physical education and sport (PES) for all generations through participation in a wide range of activities. Although it is admirable that those from any generation turn to physical activity to improve their quality of life, there is greater value to the societies of tomorrow that we positively discriminate in supporting the children and youth of today.

Talbot (2001) cited in Bailey (2006, p.397) claims that ‘physical education helps children to develop respect for the body – their own and others, contributes toward the integrated development of mind and body, develops an understanding of the role of aerobic and anaerobic physical activity in health, positively enhances self-confidence and self-esteem, and enhances social and cognitive development and academic achievement.’

The mental health charity ‘Mind’ (2016) has reiterated the importance of being active from an early age and maintaining this throughout life. Some of the key mental health benefits from regular exercise and sport include:

  • Increased self-esteem – Increased confidence not only in a sporting environment but in everyday life. Glenn (2003) describes healthy self-esteem as a realistic, appreciative opinion of oneself.
  • Reduced feelings of stress – Exercise and physical activity helps control the body’s cortisol levels; elevated cortisol levels can increase the chance of heart disease and high blood pressure, and can affect our learning (Christopher, 2013).
  • Reduced risk of depression – One study has found that increasing activity levels – from doing nothing to exercising at least three times a week – will reduce the risk of depression by almost 20% (Mind, 2016).

Obesity amongst primary school aged children is now at an all-time high of 1 child in 3. This means that there needs to be more of an emphasis on exercise and sport activities in schools (Jenkin, 2015).

Oasis Academy Blakenhale Infants’ School introduced a fitness programme called ‘Fit4Schools’, to increase the pupils’ physical health and mental alertness (Hood-Truman, 2015). A teacher at the school explained that ‘our key stage 1 results changed dramatically this year. That is not only down to good teaching but also because we’ve created a really positive learning environment that incorporates physical activity.’

Stephen Roberts, the Managing Director of Fit4Schools, recommends the form of exercise being a 20 second warm-up, then a 20-40 second intense activity followed by a cooldown period, so this could mean jumping on the spot or coordination and balance work (Jenkin, 2015).

There are also behaviour benefits that can stem from being physically active, as Keith Barton from the Youth Trust explains: ‘The thing that leads to poor behaviour is kids not feeling any ownership of what they are doing and not feeling a part of anything. Sport can really help people to feel like part of a team’ (Jenkin, 2015).

Regarding participation in sport and exercise, a recent survey (Sport England, 2018) demonstrates a bottom-up PES position of 130,000 active 5-16-year olds between September 2017 and July 2018. A survey described as ‘phase 1’ by Sport England (2018) ‘specifically focuses on behaviours.’ The survey data highlights that 17.5% of the sample size were active for over 60 minutes every day, thus meeting the Chief Medical Officer’s guidelines on PES participation. Promisingly, 25.7% and 23.9% were involved in PES for an average of over 60 minutes (but not every day) and 30-59 minutes daily respectively.

Sport England (2018) proffers that ‘… attitudes towards sport and physical activity are often shaped by experiences in childhood attitudes towards sport.’ With this and the current statistics in mind, should society today direct the dispersal of ‘limited funding’ towards radically reshaping a culture of acceptance in the participation in PES? Specifically, should the funding for schools be ‘ring-fenced’ for PES, as opposed to that for academia? There are various influences on participation, whereby schools – moreover, a collective of highly trained experts – can be the ‘hub,’ ensuring inclusion of all levels of ability and interest.

To that end, a cross-functional team of experts (sports scientists, nutritionists, physios, coaches etc.) can be employed/deployed at countrywide ‘hubs’ to assess the ability of the children in a catchment area and guide them into participation based on their personal needs. The funding should come from Government and private sources (where appropriate) as a projected offset to the billions spent in the NHS on conditions related to non-participation in PES from an early age.

The position of sport in schools is often influenced by the perception of its importance. Sir Michael Wilshaw, an OFSTED Chief Inspector, describes how head teachers commonly view PE as an ‘optional extra’ (Paton, 2014). Attendance at the ‘hub’ should be part of the national curriculum, thus proactively focusing on sport.

This positivity towards sporting activity in schools, especially primary schools, is not only critical to positive mental health and wellbeing but also to the success of a country’s elite programme. The long-term athlete development model (Istvan el al, 2013) is used by numerous different sports organisations as a fundamental building block for sports development. A critical stage of the model is the FUNdamental stage. This is especially true in late specialisation sports such as athletics, combative sports, rowing and team sports (Balyi, N.D). This stage is often developed between the ages of 6 and 10 years, with schools providing an essential role. If a school has a negative view of sporting activity, this may pass on to the young people.

If sport is to become the foundation of culture and society and reap the benefits of better physical and mental health, and the benefit of providing the next generation of elite athletes, we must empower the next generation by using schools’ systems to provide a positive outlook on sports to young people. This will also provide infrastructure for country wide ‘hubs’ to provide a stepping stone between schools and ‘centres of excellence.

Reference List
Balyi, I, Way, R and Higgs, C. (2013) Long-Term Athlete Development, Champaign, IL, Human Kinetics.

Balyi, I. (n.d) FHS [Online]. Available at https://www.activeoxfordshire.org/uploads/long-term-athlete-development-article.pdf (Accessed 29th January 2019).

Bailey, R. (2006). ‘Physical Education and Sport in Schools: A Review of Benefits and Outcomes’. Journal of School Health October 2006, Vol. 76, No.8 d 2006, American School Health Association

Christopher, B. (2013) Psychology Today [Online]. Available at https://www.psychologytoday.com/gb/blog/the-athletes-way/201301/cortisol-why-the-stress-hormone-is-public-enemy-no-1 (Accessed 29th January 2019).

Glenn, S. (202) The Self-Esteem Workbook, Oakland, CA, New Harbinger.

Jenkin, M. (2015) ‘Fit for Learning’ [online] available at: theguardian.com [27th January 2019]

Mind (2016), Mind How to improve your wellbeing through physical activity and sport [Online]. Available at https://www.mind.org.uk/media/2976123/how-to-improve-your-wellbeing-through-physical-activity-and-sport.pdf (Accessed 29th January 2019).

Paton, G. (2014) ‘Ofsted: state school pupils ‘under-represented’ in top sport’, The Telegraph, [Online]. Available at https://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/educationnews/10912704/Ofsted-state-school-pupils-under-represented-in-top-sport.html (Accessed 29th January 2019).

Sport England (2018). ‘Active lives children and young people survey academic year 2017/18’.

Talbot M. (2001). ‘The case for physical education’. In: Doll-Tepper G, Scoretz D, eds. World Summit on Physical Education. Berlin, Germany: ICSSPE; 2001:39-50.