Working together to keep Olympic buzz

It is hoped Olympic triumphs like Andy Murray's will inspire a generation and (below) Phil Wood.

It is hoped Olympic triumphs like Andy Murray's will inspire a generation and (below) Phil Wood.

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A HEADTEACHER has called for better links between schools and sports clubs to maintain the Olympic buzz.

Phil Wood, head at Lytham St Annes Technology and Performing Arts College, believes youngsters are more enthusiastic than ever about sport.

Head teacher Phil Wood

Head teacher Phil Wood

He says schools do everything they can to encourage children to be active – but to become top athletes there needs to be closer links with other organisations.

Mr Wood said: “I think there is a buzz at the moment.

“Our pupils have watched the Olympics and will be talking about it, and our task now is to build up even better links with local clubs so that youngsters can move into sport outside school.”

Mr Wood says his school has forged close links with Fylde Rugby Club and Lytham and St Annes cricket clubs in order to push talented sportsman in the right direction.

He said: “PE staff at all schools are very dedicated and do a great job, giving up a lot of their own time to run clubs, but they are not necessarily experts in all particular sports.

“They are all-rounders so in order to push kids on and get them to compete at the highest level, then they need access to the type of coaching a sports club can provide.

“If we see a talented athlete we will link them up with the athletics club at Stanley Park.

“But it can’t always be up to us.

“We need sports clubs to come to us and ask if we have youngsters who are talented and might benefit from extra coaching.”

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The Conservative government has come under fire for its policy on sport in schools. Regulations on the minimum outdoor space schools have to provide for pupils has been relaxed, while the Department of Education has admitted it has sold off 30 school playing fields since the May 2010 general election.

But Blackpool has remained largely unaffected and Howard Henshaw – a local councillor and president of the Blackpool, Wyre and Fylde Athletics Club – agrees it is quality coaching that is vital. Mr Henshaw said: “I think the lack of proper coaching from an early age is a problem and it has to change.

“It is no good bragging about the number of gold medals we won at the Olympics and talking about legacy if we don’t take steps to improve things. When you think how many different disciplines there are in athletics alone, it shows how important it is to have a lot of coaches. You can’t go tossing javelins and hammers around without proper supervision.

“I have spent a lot of time abroad, in Malaysia and Singapore, and the facilities there are incredible. Even primary schools have their own running tracks.

“We do not have anything like that here and it must be improved. But quality coaching is a key part of producing tomorrow’s Olympians and we certainly try and provide that at our athletics club.”

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