Ready for National Mild Exercise Week

1968 Clipstone Samuel Barlow School Football Team
1968 Clipstone Samuel Barlow School Football Team
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I THINK I may have mentioned before that I do not share my workmates’ enthusiasm for football.

Nor for any other sport, as a matter of fact.

With the exception of the Tour de France, of course. But that is more than just a sporting event, it is a clash of titanic proportions.

However, that is not the point.

What is important in this context is my apathy towards most forms of running, kicking and hitting.

It is nothing new.

I have never so much as raised an eyebrow of speculative interest when football results were read out over the television.

I don’t share the tribal draw of basking in the reflected glory of a team, or the shared misery of sinking in their sorrows when defeated.

And I reckon that is because I was never good at sports. Of any kind.

Even darts seemed to have a life of their own when I tentatively launched them in the general direction of the double top.

When it came to picking teams, I was not the final choice. I just wasn’t selected.

Our classes were so large that there was always a large contingent to make up two soccer squads.

And that left half a dozen of us who were sent off to the muddy end of the sports field to half-heartedly kick a sodden casey ball towards, but rarely, through the goalposts.

We had a particularly misanthropic sports teacher who had a thing about cross country running.

Perhaps it was because it was a good way of getting rid of us for an hour or so but he loved to open the gates, point us at the nearby woods and blow his whistle to signal Go!

They called it running but as soon as we (me and my mates, at least) were out of sight, we slowed to a trot, then to a walk then to a full-blown dawdle as the line up ‘runners’ stretched ever thinner along the route.

These various painful memories were dragged screaming and feebly kicking from my subconscious by a letter from former Sheffield resident Kim Hunt, who now lives in Ashford, Middlesex.

Kim was commenting on the National Sports Week for Kids.

Sponsored by Lloyds TSB, it will apparently run from June 27 to July 1.

And, gushingly, the organisers bellow: “The 2010 week saw 14,000 schools and five million young people taking part – and the 2011 week promises to be bigger and better!

“Schools registered and taking part have some amazing opportunities.”

As Kim says: “Is it compulsory? Or do parents and children have the final say?

“Sport is not for everybody and talk to any adults and some will say they loathed doing sports at school.

“Parents and others who are obsessive about sport should allow their children freedom of choice.”

That is exactly how I felt. And how I still feel.

A lot is made of sport and its value to society. I can see that.

But has anyone given any thought to the pressure this is putting on young, impressionable minds?

Kids love to be part of the crowd and inevitably feel awkward when their physical limitations or just sheer dislike of sport keeps them out of the first team.

I just hope that when National Sports Week for Kids comes along, it is accompanied by a National Mild Exercise Week for the rest.