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Sport in school crucial for next generation: Guthrie

 

Big concern: Serena Guthrie is fighting for more PE support
Big concern: Serena Guthrie is fighting for more PE support

By Carl Markham

England captain Serena Guthrie admits she is concerned that the decreasing amount of school time allocated to physical education could affect the next generation of netball players.

At the weekend, Ofsted's chief inspector Amanda Spielman called on the government to do more to increase sport in schools amid growing worries PE is being squeezed out of the curriculum because of funding cuts and excessive focus on exam results.

With the schoolyard traditionally providing the first introduction to sports like netball, Guthrie, who will lead her side out at only the third home World Cup in 56 years when the tournament starts in Liverpool on Friday, believes changes have to be made to arrest the decline.

And she wants more funding to enable state schools to do so with teachers going that extra yard to provide a good sporting experience given support.

"It is concerning to see that. You look at other countries and how they organise the way they have sports plus education, it can all fit in," the 29-year-old, who set up her own coaching business to help address the issue, said. "There has to be space for them to express themselves and be free and that is what sport provides.

"I am a strong believer that sport offers so much that a classroom can't teach. Who I am today I didn't learn in the classroom, I learned that through sport. To potentially not have that in a school environment... as a kid I would have gone crazy. So it is incredibly important.

"There are a lot of teachers who give up a lot of time who believe in the game for their kids and I'd like to see those people and schools given the resources to take the game forward.

"It can't just be about the private school system, it has to be about state schools as well.

"I know everyone has different challenges when it comes to schools and how things are done but as an athlete I think it should be done in every school in the country."

England's hosting of the World Cup provides the ideal showcase for the sport, with matches being shown on terrestrial and satellite television.

Guthrie is hoping to continue the feelgood factor from football's Lionesses at their own World Cup, having already contributed to the upturn in the focus on women's sport by winning gold at last year's Commonwealth Games.

But she stressed the priority was success ahead of being a promotional event.

"Seeing what the Lionesses have done and inspiring the nation, despite not getting the results, is quite incredible," she added. "We want people to come on this journey with us.

"But we are not here just to inspire people, we want a result, and if we can continue to move forward as a group we will set ourselves up for the next four years in terms of funding interest and sponsorship."

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