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Sportivate Programme

Volume 572: debated on Thursday 12 December 2013

4. What assessment she has made of the potential effect of a greater focus on competitive sport on the number of women aged between 14 and 25 participating in the Sportivate programme. (901606)

Sportivate is not a competitive sports programme. It offers young people the chance to try a new sport for the very first time. Nearly 300,000 14 to 25-year-olds have completed the Sportivate course in the last two years, including 4,250 young people from the hon. Lady’s constituency. Around half of the 300,000 participating are women, 80% of whom have gone on to play sport on a regular basis.

The Minister will doubtless be aware that the Education Select Committee recently published a report looking at the legacy of the Olympics, which has been somewhat disappointing. Has she had any discussions with the Department for Education about the restoration of school sport partnerships, the abolition of which has done so much harm to young people’s participation in sporting activities and their long-term health?

I disagree completely with the hon. Lady about that. Funding of some £1 billion is being put into youth and community sport by this Government. We have also committed £450 million over the next three years to primary school sport. We are running the school games in which 16,000 schools are participating, to encourage children to engage in competitive sport. More people are doing sport than ever before. The school sport partnerships were very expensive, very bureaucratic and, sadly, failed, with only two out of five pupils competing in sport on a regular basis.

May I welcome my hon. Friend’s focus on participation in sport for women between those ages? I think too much focus on competitiveness can put them off from engaging. Will she confirm that all sports are involved, including swimming, which I learned at that age, and it is something that I continue to pursue in my advanced years?

My hon. Friend makes a very good point. I am pleased that she still enjoys swimming—and may she continue to enjoy it for many years to come. She made an important point about competition. Competition can be great, but not everyone likes it. We want people to be active and to enjoy sport, which is why changes have been made to the national curriculum to provide a broad range of team and individual activities such as dance that will appeal to those who may be a little less competitive.