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Why so much apathy?

Sport | Published:

THREE of the island’s most influential and respected administrators are united in their views that sport, as a whole, must cast aside its apathy.

Graham Chester of the Guernsey Sports Commission. (Picture by Peter Frankland, 19580884)

Just 970 islanders contributed to the new ‘Plan for Sport’ consultation which was undertaken by Education, Sport & Culture.

Of those responses, 40% came from 12-16 year olds and a host of the island’s main sports did not involve themselves.

Only 14 of the 51 Guernsey Sports Commission member sports took time to respond and that has disappointed the commission’s operations director Graham Chester, Stag chairman David Piesing and Commonwealth Games Association vice-chairman and chef de mission Garry Collins. Chester said: ‘It’s disappointing to see that there hasn’t been a great response from sports clubs/organisations, but not surprising as for some unknown reason there has always been this apathy towards supplying information, whether that is around asking about such things as facilities, travel, participation numbers and now the strategy.

‘It often reminds me of one old club stalwart who said to me, many years ago, “I didn’t fill it out and send it back to you because nothing will change even if I do”. He was quite right, of course, because the vast majority of others didn’t bother sending theirs in either, making what little information that did come back either meaningless or make any argument for the benefit of the greater good very weak.’

Piesing, who also sits on the commission as a director, said: ‘I think it’s a useful paper, albeit diluted by the narrowness of the responses received’.

He added: ‘It is a shame that the responses were so poor, especially from multiple sports, but also from the general population at large given that 40% came from 12-16 year olds. One can only speculate why there was such apathy.

‘Personally, I suspect it is the legacy created by the States having done so little for sport over the past two decades, and the lack of sport “champions” in the States. Maybe the population wants to see more evidence of the States actually being willing to back sport properly before the topic is taken seriously?’

Collins was not too discouraged by the lack of feedback.

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‘Generally, a great start – 970 responses is a lot more than other States requests. I am a little disappointed that only 14 sports officially responded, but then again when you have been ignored for 20 years, really since before the last Island Games in 2003, I believe most sports have switched off.

‘It is up to ESC in conjunction with the Sports Commission to change that mindset. I know from sitting on the Sports Commission that very substantial progress is being made on that front and that the new ESC are being very supportive. The obvious link via Health & Social Care with obesity is starting to be joined up together as a strategy, so everything is moving in the right direction.

‘Funding the cost of sport is crucial. Sport must remain affordable and the States must continually invest in improving and maintaining facilities.

‘Utilising the imminently redundant school sites at Les Varendes and La Mare de Carteret for dedicated new sport and leisure facilities, both indoor and outdoor, is a prime opportunity. It is completely wrong that we have had to rely on the generosity of Jon Ravenscroft and Stuart Falla for all new/enhanced sports facilities in recent years, with negligible financial input from the States, other than at the new schools.’

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Chester said more work needs to be done.

‘From an individual perspective, whilst the information gathered to date is important, the strategy will still need to take account of the needs of our population that there has been little or no response from.’

Comment Page 17

Rob Batiste

By Rob Batiste
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