Were I to offer a scheme to reduce obesity levels and increase the general health and wellbeing of Sheffield’s school children now and into the future - and all for £700k per annum, the City Council would probably seize upon it.
Except in very short order we will no longer be able to do this in Sheffield. Because we are about to lose the most inspirational tool we have in the fight for the health of our future generations. An asset which gives Sheffield an advantage over most other cities in the UK.
It is of course Don Valley Stadium. It seems that all the decisions have been taken on current costs, current usages and solely from within the sport, culture and leisure silo. This is narrow-minded thinking and is probably why the stadium is so shamefully underused in the broad community.
As a starter, every school child in Sheffield should have a minimum of one hour at the stadium each week as part of the curriculum. It is an inspirational place; walk, jog or run down the finishing straight and even if you are by yourself it is addictive. You can run, walk, jump, throw - and for those not able to be physically involved there are many curriculum-relevant activities in timing, measurement, image capturing etc.
Listen to Jess Ennis and to 1000s of amateurs like me who have crossed that line - it is inspirational. And it is to Sheffield’s eternal shame that we should consider demolishing this wonderful asset that has so much to give to all our children.
If only those in charge could do some joined up thinking to link leisure with education. If only those in charge could use some imagination.
Unlike other victims of the economic climate that could be recreated reasonably quickly in better times - once this has gone it has gone forever. And with it any pretension Sheffield may ever have to attract world class athletes, any chance of inspiring and nurturing future generations of Sheffield children.
Woodburn simply does not have it. It does not have that world class wow factor, it does not offer that inspiration. Those who believe it does exemplify precisely the dull lack of imagination that is removing the world class from Sheffield and from our children’s futures.
To close the Don Valley Stadium shows us we are led by those who know the cost of everything and the value of nothing.
Chris Heaton, Wortley, S35