Olympics con trick leaves grass roots sport skint

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Amid all the synthetic excitement being force-fed us by the media over the London Olympics, spare a thought for the thousands of grass roots sports clubs around the country who are struggling for money to provide even basic amenities to support their members.

It is these clubs who are having to make do with, in many cases, appalling – or no – facilities while 17,000 of the world’s elite athletes will be pampered in five-star luxury.

As an example, Surfleet’s Glen Park is one of Lincolnshire’s most successful sport and leisure venues with an annual throughput of 30,000, yet 26 teams of hockey and football players have to use the bushes around the site as a toilet because there is no money to build changing rooms.

Since 2003, when I correctly predicted that the London Olympics would cost this country £20billion – not the £2.3billion the government claimed – nothing has changed my view that it is the biggest con trick ever perpetrated on the British public.

I wonder how many people would be quite as enthusiastic about it if they knew that before work could start, 30 travelling families were each paid £150,000 to move off the Stratford site? Or that the final bill represents half of the money the government is taking from pensions, benefits and public services?

Talk to any contractor who has been involved with the Olympics and the story of excess, waste and a “money no object” culture emerges.

A recent Sport England grants programme specifically aimed at improving sports take-up in rural communities was 30 times oversubscribed; this year’s Inspired Facilities fund had 650 applications for £10m.

That should tell us something about the state of amateur sport in this country and the lack of money to support it.

Yet politicians have been prepared to lavish a reported £59,000 on every single competitor – most of them professional – at London 2012 and see grass roots sport impoverished as a result.

The London Olympics has been labelled the “Legacy Games” but even Sport England has quietly dropped its pledge to get one million more people to take up sport as a result of the Games.

I fear the real legacy will be a generation of disenfranchised and disillusioned people with no aspiration to gold medals but who just want to play sport.

Doug Whyles

Surfleet Play and

Recreation Committee