Reviving Sporting Interest

Think back to last summer, it was the final week of June, strawberries were ripening and the two Red Bull cars were dominating the British Grand Prix at Silverstone. The new roof on Wimbledon’s centre court was ready for action as the organisers of Britain’s premier tennis tournament promised competitors that rain couldn’t spoil proceedings. As it turned out we weren’t treated to a typical Wimbledon because the rain hardly fell and we were able to enjoy two glorious weeks of high quality sport in the sun, culminating in a fantastic nail-biting final between Roger Federer and Andy Roddick. In one of the best finals ever, the last set was fought out over 30 games, with Federer taking the match 16-14 and winning the longest Wimbledon final ever. TV audiences were measured at a record 11.1 million towards the end of the match, illustrating the impact a high quality sporting event can have on the UK population.

However one traditional feature of the Wimbledon fortnight was never going to be changed and that was the resurgence of interest in tennis that follows the Wimbledon tournament.

The thrill of watching the world’s best tennis players on home soil served to remind people that tennis is a great sport and that facilities all over the country were just waiting to be used. Thousands of usually empty or infrequently used tennis courts in every town and city suddenly became very popular. Children, who may have wondered what that rectangle of tarmac in the corner of the park was for, were now asking their parents to dig out their old tennis rackets and a take them down for a game. Expecting to find the courts deserted as usual, they would almost certainly have been treated to the surprise of seeing the courts all busy and groups of others waiting their turn. Dust covered booking systems would be opened up and names would be listed for later in the days and weeks to come. Tennis clubs and tennis teaching academies would start to receive a flood of new enquiries, at least until the end of the summer when the annual phenomena starts to fade away again.

That is the impact of a high profiling sporting event and the same thing happens when the football season restarts or when sports such as athletics, gymnastics or swimming receive some prime airtime on our TV channels. No doubt lots of children who were watching Beth Tweddle take a gold medal in the World Gymnastics Championships held in London during October will be asking their parents how they get to do the same thing. There will undoubtedly be lots of young boy racers who are now more eager to get into a go-kart and start following in new World Champion Jenson Button’s footsteps on the motor racing circuits.

Wind forward a few months and we can expect a similar situation to start evolving once the next Winter Olympic Games start in Vancouver, Canada in February 2010. There’s no need to start building the bobsleigh your young ones might be asking for or to start laying the foundations for a four story-high ski jump ramp in the back garden, but don’t be surprised when they start to get excited watching the snowboarding races or the freestyle skiers performing their spectacular jumps.

For anyone living in the UK, the opportunities to take part in a proper downhill ski race or to start learning the basics of ski jumping are fairly minimal. Unless you have the time and money school-age children can look forward to just a week or two at most in a real winter sports resort, but now that doesn’t necessarily mean the end of any winter sports ambitions.

Freestyle skiers and snowboarders now have a very credible alternative in the form of indoor snow sport centres. This new type of facility is able to provide the ideal conditions for getting to grips with sports like snowboarding in relative comfort and safety. The Snow Centre in Hemel Hempstead is just the type of facility that could be laying the foundations for British Winter Olympic success in the future and when the Vancouver Olympics start next year, it could witness the same type of increased interest that our tennis courts experience during June and July.

The Snow Centre is perfectly set up to cater for the demand too. It has a session programme and instruction schedule to take people of all ages and abilities and get them on the slope quickly and safely. Some even argue that the indoor conditions it provides are even better for beginners than those you would find in a traditional outdoor resort.

Equipment hire is included in the admission price so anyone can come along and have a go. And it’s not just beginners who appreciate the options available at The Snow Centre. Accomplished and experienced snowboarders and skiers will also find sessions that cater for their more demanding needs. Each week the centre holds several freestyle sessions, culminating with a four hour freestyle night on Friday’s, where the centre’s staff construct the type of challenging features on the slopes that freestylers look for.

Bournemouth Watersports – All Water Based Activities and Sports in the Region!

To top off the selection, Bournemouth and Poole have the very finest and sunniest beaches in the land, ideal if you wish to try one of the Watersports listed above! Most of the activities are in the town and some are very close by. I am particularly interested in Kite surfing myself and see it as one of the very best sports to emerge in the last ten years. I would relish the time, opportunity and motive to have a go. So if you are looking for something to try while on holiday then this is one for you!

All of the training in the area is amongst the finest in the land and all the schools are run by qualified and extremely competent instructors to ensure your safety and rapid advancement. You can even go all the way up to hiring a luxury powerboat to cruise the beautiful seas and harbours in the area or if your budget does not stretch enough, you can enjoy one of the many cruises offered throughout the year. Anything related to water is available in the town and beyond as this is one of the most established seaside resorts in the whole of the land. The Watersports section here is second to none in the UK

According to the tourist management Board the Bournemouth and poole region is set to become the epicentre of the Uks Water based sporting centre and with the arrival of the new artificial surf reef near Boscombe pier it shows that the area is headed in the right direction. The tourist board has also said it will release information pertaining to tourism and encourage locals to partake in the new facilities available now!

Find Sports

Finding a sport for me

As well as a large number of local clubs you can join and facilities you can use there are also national organisations which promote sport for young people like Sport England. There are also national funding programmes like the National Lottery which can give young people an opportunity to develop their sport. This section concentrates on these organisations. Almost all of them will be able to put you in touch with a local organisation. This section also includes information on being a spectator and supporter.

Most people’s experience of playing sport begins at school, either in the playground at break time or in games lessons. Some people love school sport and go on to play in their spare time. For others it is a weekly chore and the sooner it is over the better.

If you never really liked sport at school you probably wont feel very enthusiastic about taking it up later. But sport is a very broad term and just because you had a miserable time doing cross country at school doesn’t mean you won’t enjoy archery or rollerblading for example. Perhaps you’re just not so good at running but you might have a really steady arm for snooker!

Some of the most popular sports are easy to play without much equipment The most important thing about sport is being able to participate in it. The more you play the better you get. You may find that you want to play in a team and compete with others and this is the point when your sport gets more serious and questions about equipment, access to facilities and travel costs become more important.

Sport is also a great way of getting to meet people. If you’re stuck at home or feeling lonely, joining a sport club can give you an excuse to meet new people. In the section on different sports we’ve included information on how much it costs to play the sport, where to go for a local contact and what kind of opportunities there are for disabled people.

Where can I play sport?

All local authority leisure departments provide sports facilities in their area. The Government has introduced new Sport Action Zones to enhance community sports across England. The programme is intended to run for 10 years. Call your local authority to find out what is available for you locally.

You don’t have to play sport in a sports hall or recreation centre, kicking a ball in the park, walking the dog or practising yoga at home are all beneficial sporting activities. You and a group of friends may like to form your own football team, running group or perhaps even a Frisbee challenge team! All of these activities can be enjoyed informally. If you want more details about any sporting activity, contact one of the sports organisations in our listing.

Are you getting enough exercise?

The Health Education Authority (now the Health Development Agency) published a very useful leaflet called “Getting Active – Feeling Fit”. The guide encourages you to make exercise part of your weekly routine. They have the following advice for young people:

“When you’re young, it’s easy to think that you don’t need to bother exercising. But it’s vital to keep active to keep yourself in good shape. Not only will you look and feel better but you’ll be less likely to store up health problems for the future.”

The leaflet suggested you do some or all of the following:
-Join a local leisure centre;
-If there is a particular sport you enjoy, make enquiries with your local sports centre to see if there is a club you can join;
-If you prefer individual activities, try cycling, walking or jogging. You may know someone who would like to train with you;
-There may be discounts available to young people in your area. Find out from the local council if schemes like this operate in your area;
-Don’t forget dancing… A night on the dance floor can use up as much energy as a full workout!

Contact the HEA if you would like to receive a copy of their leaflet.

There are a number of organisations in the UK promoting sport in general or the development of a particular sport. Here we have included details of organisations promoting a general interest in sport, including the Sports Council, National Coaching Foundation and the Sports Council Lottery Fund.