SJA Question Time
Clive Efford MP Labour
Helen Grant MP Conservative
John Leech MP Liberal
Chair… David Walker SJA
We were invited to a question time type debate with the above mentioned MP’s in the Wilson Room, Portcullis House, Rollapaluza did submit a question put forward by Jason Falconer, unfortunately it was the final question and never got answered, apart from in a roundabout way via another question.
Portcullis House is the first addition this century to the Parliamentary Estate, the complex of buildings centred on the Palace of Westminster which provide a working space and facilities for members of both Houses of Parliament and their staff, the building was opened in 2001 by Her majesty the Queen.
As you would expect with politicians never give too much away, but here is a selection of Q&A’s from the evening.
(Q) Will you maintain the same ratio of money invested in grass roots and elite sports in the next government?
JL; “ Its a slightly unfair question before we publish our manifesto, sports funding is incredibly important to us, grass roots and elite, there has to be more commitment from the likes of the Premier League to put money back into grass roots sport. I think too much time is spent on statistics, the main thing is keeping people fit and active, the biggest problem we have is inactivity”
HG; “ I will always,always champion investment in sport because its not just about health and fitness but the confidence and self esteem it can give people, life lessons …team work, leadership, discipline and respect “
CE; “ I think yes from the areas that come from the lottery but I can’t sit here and say or know what money I will get from Ed Balls if he becomes chancellor, but I would commit to fighting for investment because there is a growing concern for inactivity, that needs to be addressed so if your looking long term there will be consequences for the economy and health services. The elite level has a role to play stimulating interest in sport and as the Olympics showed it can be an economic driver as well, but we need to get cross government co-operation to maximise the funding we’ve got”
DW; Were you alarmed in the post Olympics that we are seeing sports like swimming having fewer people participating at grass roots level?
CE; “ Well yes I think participation has flatlined, there is a lot more we can do I think it was an absolutely dreadful decision by the government to take the 162million out of Schools Sports Partnerships, it sent everything into reverse at a key moment when we should have been building on the momentum , Hugh Robinson said himself that he would build on schools partnerships but his legs were taken out from under him by a non co-ordinated government in my opinion, so it is tragic whats happening in areas like swimming, one in three children leaving primary school unable to swim 25m , there are things we can do around that, for instance a survey by the ASA a few years ago showed that the down time for swimming baths is the period straight after school finish times, so it doesn’t take much to work out if we want more children to swim why don’t we try and fill that time, it just needs better co-ordination and I don’t think this government has shown any will to do that”
HG; “ Two issues there, swimming and participation figures, first of all swimming I have met very recently with the ASA (Amateur Swimming Association ) and Sport England, the ASA Know they need to step things up, I was disappointed with the figures, swimming is a great sport and as a country we are good at it, its affordable for most and there are plenty of pools near where people live, I am confident we will see improvement on the swimming figures. On the point of participation generally I think we have a really good news story to tell here, since the Olympics we have 6million more people doing more sports 650,000 more women 240,000 people with disabilities thats good, but it certainly isn’t flatlining we are also seeing more 16-25 year olds doing sport record numbers, so I don’t accept what Clive has to say”
(Q) Has there been enough to be done to tackle racism in sport football in particular ?
JL: “I think we have made massive in roads and the difference in level of racism from 30 years ago is much improved but we must continue to keep our efforts going,there just a small minority of idiots in and outside grounds ruining things for everyone”
CE; “I think there is danger in criticising all chelsea fans for a few, I would say you would be hard pressed to find any other organisation than football that challenge’s racism in our communities I don’t see a time when we can stop challenging it, I don’t think we have enough black football managers/coaches or boardroom members in this country and this needs to change, there are only two black managers at the moment so that needs looking at to reflect the amount of black players on the pitch, Football or any other sport doesn’t make people racist its something society has to challenge and I think football has done an awful lot .The people on the paris metro let us all down, even our country”
HG; “I would echo what Clive said I was disgusted at the images, its inexcusable I can not tell you the damage it does, we need zero tolerance, the seniors from the club were distraught they moved swiftly. We are not there yet, some would say that the lack of black managers/coaches could be seen as racism I think this is really important, I have heard of some good practice in the past years and some black coaches and women intact are coming through the system”
(Q) DW; In America they have the ‘Rooney Rule’ which insists that a percentage of black/ethnic candidates for coaching or management are shortlisted, would you all support that in British sport?
CE; “ I would hope British sport could deal with it themselves if not you would have to look at something like the Rooney Rule if sport is refusing to shift, but I wouldn’t rule it out if there was no progress”
HG; “ I also believe we need balance in society and we need people from all backgrounds knocking at the door for all top jobs, not just in football and actually getting the jobs, but if these programs don’t work then maybe we do need some legislation”
JL; “ Yes I would support it “
(Q) Should the next government criminalise doping in sport
JL ; “They should consider it sport is big business and you have to discourage the cheating that has gone on”
CE; “ Easy said, but hard to apply in law, its how you make it stick and it looks like it could be difficult but the principal is right, we need to be at the cutting edge of catching these people, its how you prove the crime, its a complex thing to get into law”
HG; “ I think the integrity of sport is paramount it goes to the heart of sport , cheats need to know they will be punished ,I don’t think legislation is the best way forward we need a multi agency approach and more athlete information and education”