Fighting for our fields - the right to play

25 July 2012

The view from LTL

I remember on a wet and windy camping holiday in Cornwall back in 2005 huddling outside a supermarket plugged into my husband's portable radio listening intently to find out who had secured the right to host the Olympics in London 2012 (never quite sure what we're actually allowed to say here...'a major sporting event in the Summer of the year before 2013 involving lots of countries and based in and around the capital city of England'?)

I was particularly excited because I believed so passionately in the bidding committee's commitment to leaving a sporting and a cultural legacy for our young people. When London's success was announced I truly believed that we would be looking into a future of outstanding sporting and activity spaces for our young people to turn the tide of hours spent playing in the ether. I knew that everyone meant it when they said that this legacy was what made our bid unique and special and meaningful.

And in so many ways it is both exciting and challenging to see the work that LOCOG is putting in to make this great event a success on our home soil.

It goes without saying, I thought, that our schools (for that is where we can find most young people) would be able to expand on their existing facilities, that the demand for top quality playing fields and open spaces would be a given, that we would have more outdoor activity spaces because everyone would be working so hard to create an environment for fitter healthier communities where the sports men and women of the future would learn their craft. This would be our outstanding legacy. We would become a fit and healthy nation able to hold our own with the sporting giants of the world in generations to come.

It is brilliant to see the work of the Queen Elizabeth II Fields Challenge, run by the Fields In Trust charity. The aim is to provide 2012 protected green spaces, including playing fields, by the end of this year. As Prince William said in the media this weekend 'As we cheer on athletes at the Olympic Games, we should remember how so many of them started their career on local green spaces'.

So why were 6000 playing fields lost in this country between 1992 and 2009 (2010 Inverdale Facilities enquiry)?

And in fact - why in this year of all years are we depending on a charity to have to protect those very spaces that should surely have been celebrated and championed and lauded because of this great 2 weeks that we have ahead of us?

Shouldn't it be a national scandal that school playing fields are being sold off at all in this time of increased obesity, reduced time spent outdoors.....the Olympics coming to London?

Well shouldn't it?

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