Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Making Community Sport count - by Huw Lewis AM

It's 100 days to go until London 2012 and Sport Wales today embarks on a series of blogs about Community Sport. Huw Lewis AM is the Sports Minister for Wales.

Sports Minister Huw Lewis AM

Growing up, it is probably fair to say that I was less gifted at almost every sport than almost every last one of my contemporaries! But despite this, I have throughout my life always been acutely aware at how sport can enrich people’s lives and, in particular, how it can give young people a chance to create a positive future for themselves. From the rich boxing heritage of my home town, to the outdoor sports facilities my dad help set up in Aberfan, or the fantastic and newly community-run Merthyr Town FC – there has never been any doubt in my mind that sport has a unique ability to bring together and strengthen families and communities.

I am therefore especially pleased that Sport Wales has developed a strategy that seeks to take this idea and run with it. The new community strategy being launched today is an exciting moment for sport in Wales, and for our country as a whole.  That is because, as I’ve written on this site before, sport matters. It matters beyond the results of your local teams and clubs – sport can have a reach into almost every aspect of our lives. Physical activity can make a valuable contribution to our health and wellbeing; it can bring people together and it can break down barriers.

That is why I am passionate about making it easier for everyone to access and to stay involved in sport throughout their lives.  This Welsh Government wants to provide young people with the skills, confidence and motivation to take part in sport and enhance the provision of sport to meet the different needs of individuals and communities. We want to increase the number of volunteers actively involved in sport and continue to support our current and future talented athletes to bring us success that we can celebrate together.
Every young person should have the chance to shine and be given an opportunity to contribute positively to their community, irrespective of their circumstances.  Sport can and does play an important role in helping young people and families deal with and overcome difficult situations and to strive for a better future.  This strategy, sitting alongside Sport Wales’ Child Poverty Strategy will play its part in helping to reduce and prevent poverty by reducing barriers and inequalities.

This strategy quite rightly challenges us all to think differently about how we best engage and retain people’s interest in and enthusiasm for sport.  We need to be bold, ambitious and innovative but we must also be focused on making a real difference where it is needed most. 

I warmly welcome the commitment of Sport Wales and other key partners in the public, private and third sector to this strategy and to the principles, values and priorities within it.  There is no doubt that we face serious challenges ahead to create in every part of Wales, a strong, successful and sustainable community sport structure but I believe it is achievable if we work genuinely and honestly with and for each other.

This blog was written in conjunction with the launch of a strategy for Community Sport in Wales.  If you’d like your say, get involved in the debate on twitter – using the hashtag #communitysport and you can mention us @sport_wales