Thursday, 22 October 2020

Sport and Community

When the pandemic is finally over, there will be some areas where people will be determined to return to life as it was before but there will be other areas where people will reflect and seek a change in the balance of their lives. Social distancing has made people value friendships and family connections as many had perhaps started to under-appreciate them, given the frantic pace of life in the modern world. People have also discovered a new connection with the natural world during the full lockdown as access to public spaces was just about all we had. 
One area where I think people are determined to see a return to life as it was before will be sports, and perhaps where we will see even more interest is in our many vibrant sports clubs locally. Groups from Cornwall Athletic Club to all our rugby, football and cricket clubs have seen a growth in membership in recent years and I hope this resumes. 
I recently met the dedicated volunteers of Troon Amateur Football Club, at Grouter Park. They are a fantastic example of a local community project that we can be proud of and have played an important role in our community for 50 years. Membership has grown significantly recently and they are engaging children and young people of all ages and abilities. They field three teams in the Cornwall disAbility League, eleven youth teams in the Kernow League, two senior teams and even a “walking football” team. They have worked incredibly hard on plans to build a new clubhouse and facilities at the site and have already secured some important pledges of support. This is a project that deserves backing.
Despite the old stereotype of the brainy children at school being the less sporty, there is a lot of evidence that physical activity and fitness can boost the performance of the brain. There has also been a concern in recent years about the growing problem of childhood obesity. The growth of electronic-games and computers means that some children are less active now than in the past and it requires a special focus on sports to try to counterbalance that development. Cornwall is blessed with a magnificent coastline allowing a whole range of sporting activities that are not realistic prospects in other parts of the country, from surfing to sailing and many others. At Stithians reservoir, we also have the best site in the UK for windsurfing. Everyone can find something that they enjoy or are good at, keeping themselves both mentally and physically healthy.
When I was growing up, my passion was running and I will never forget the volunteers at Cornwall Athletic Club who gave up their time to coach us, drive the minibus to competitions at the weekend and act as officials at all the events. Quite often, these volunteers started because their own children were interested in the sport, but once involved, they were committed and would often stay involved for many years after their children had moved on. Above all, it is volunteers today who keep all of our sports clubs going from rugby and football to cricket, swimming and dance.

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