School sport 'patchy', says Hunt
School sports provision is patchy in some places at the moment, Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt has admitted.
To continue the British successes of the London Olympics, it is important to ensure best practice is followed around the country, and to have more investment at primary school level, he said.
His comments follow the call by Lord Moynihan, the head of the British Olympic Association (BOA), for a major increase in Government funding to build on the success of Team GB at the London Games.
The BOA chairman accused the current and previous governments of "treading water" in terms of increasing participation. The peer, a former sports minister under Margaret Thatcher, claimed school sport policy is "bureaucratic" and needs more money to fund a major expansion.
Lord Moynihan said: "There is a need for radical reform and I am calling for more money. There needs to be a total commitment to ensuring a sports participation legacy that has to focus on schools and clubs. We have tens of thousands of kids watching great moments which will live with them for ever. The Government should step up to the mark."
Mr Hunt told BBC Breakfast: "I think at the moment school sport provision is patchy in some places, and we need to do what we can to make sure that the very best examples are spread throughout the whole country, and this is absolutely going to be a focus over the next few months and one of the things that we really want to take away from these Games.
"When you were showing the medals table just then, we're third in the world. Actually the funding of sport has been one of the great successes. John Major set up the Lottery in the early 1990s, and in the '96 Atlanta Games we won just one gold medal, we've already won 16 in these Games, and we are only halfway through the Games. Other countries are now looking at the UK, and looking at our sport funding model, and seeing what they can learn."
London 2012 chairman Lord Coe said there was "a limited window of opportunity" to seize the day in terms of building on the success of the British team but he believed the Prime Minister, David Cameron, recognised this.
Labour's former sports minister Richard Caborn accused Lord Moynihan of "rewriting history" by overlooking the contribution to this year's crop of Olympic medals of the state investment in sport, saying: "We did invest very heavily in sport under the Blair administration. The success now in the Olympics is a result of the investment we put into UK sports."
Downing Street said the Government was determined to make the most of the Olympics legacy and had already put in place a £1 billion youth sports strategy, with the Prime Minister's official spokesman saying: "Obviously this is a great opportunity. Obviously the Olympics is shining a spotlight on sport in this country. The Prime Minister is very committed to ensuring that we maximise the benefits of hosting the Olympics."