British Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Nadine Dorries has urged sports to do far more to boost opportunity and activity levels in the kingdom’s poorest communities, saying that she wants the next Emma Raducanu to be just as likely to come from Burnley, a former mill town in the English countryside, as Bromley, an affluent suburb of London.
In her first major speech on sport and physical activity since taking charge as secretary last month, Dorries revealed that the government is working on a new strategy for sport for next year that would include broadening participation and getting more people active, particularly in under-represented groups.
“We were all so delighted to watch Emma Raducanu triumph at the US Open — but I don’t want to wait another four decades for us to find our next Emma Raducanu,” Dorries told the ukactive Conference in London.
“I don’t want a sports star from a council estate to be held back because they can’t afford a racket, let alone coaching, or because they’re forced to play on one of those shabby old tennis courts, which I am afraid we can find up and down the country,” Dorries said.
“It can be so much harder for children from disadvantaged backgrounds to make the most of their potential,” Dorries said. “Children should be competing on a level playing field from day 1... I want our next tennis champion to be just as likely to come from Burnley as Bromley.”
Last year, the Sport England Active Lives survey found that nearly 14 million adults did less than 30 minutes of exercise per week, with the poor, older people and ethnic groups particularly affected.
Dorries said that the government has spent more than ￡1 billion (US$1.4 billion) to support all levels of sports during the COVID-19 pandemic, including an extra ￡30 million to train new physical education teachers and another ￡30 million to renovate 4,500 tennis courts.
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