It’s time we made life easier for Glasgow 2014′s unsung heroes
Thursday, July 31st, 2014 @ 2:52PM
Behind every medallist is an incredibly proud mum or dad.
Someone who through love and duty got out of their beds at 5am to drive to the pool, who sacrificed their summer holidays, who paid the petrol bill and made those special protein shakes, holding their nose.
It’s not just the parents of elite athletes pulling a shift, though. There’s folk like them in every community across Scotland. Their efforts are often without reward.
In fact, we do our level best as a nation to make life pretty difficult for them. They’re only keeping our kids fit and out of trouble, after all.
It all comes down to money. For many community-based sports clubs, the biggest cost they have to bear is council lets – the price of the jannie opening up and staying till all the balls have been packed away.
And those lets can rise at the whim of a local council under pressure. Less money coming in from the Scottish Government to finance core services means councils have to either make cuts or hike prices – in most places, both. That just makes it harder and harder to keep a sports club going.
I see it time and time again in the east end of Edinburgh, where we have a proud record of sending boxers and basketball players to compete in international games.
What they need is solid, sustainable funding. Hard cash that recognises the job they do – fulfilling a passion for sport and finding the occasional diamond with the potential to lift a cup or a medal to roaring home crowds. Sure, there’s some government money and lottery money, too, but once you read the small print on these pots of cash you discover it’s very often for multi-sport facilities.
So, here’s the irony – the clubs have to get bigger and less specialised to survive and that puts their community roots at threat and dilutes their skills.
What’s more, those pots of gold are always for new kit or training gear, never for the dull business of paying the rent. You can’t take a picture of that or stick a sponsor’s name on it.
So here’s a plea. When the Games are over, when talk starts moving towards legacy, can part of that legacy be about supporting community sport and not just with shiny new buildings or bibs?
For me, that means more support for community ownership, both in start-up costs and the skills to succeed at sport.
But it also means sitting back and measuring not what clubs cost the nation but what they save – by producing healthier, happier people as well as the stars of the future.