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Friday, June 14, 2013

Lean on me Bill Withers

In the sixties and seventies Government policy was very anti-sport. The Notting Hill dinner parties decided that it was wrong for children to be competitive and an opportunity was spotted to sell off school fields for soulless housing estates where the gardens weren't big enough to play in and the streets had shiny cars from 2 car families with 2 jobs, 2 children and mortgages that meant that they ate jam sandwiches for tea. The kids weren't allowed to play on the streets and the parents kept up with the Jones's for their competition.

Forty years later and Desperate Dave came up with his idea about Big Society. This was where people were going to give back their time to support the community. This was along with trying to payback huge mortgages that bankers sold on commission much bigger than people could afford to pay back, so they worked harder and longer bought shinier cars and kidded themselves that they were richer had a better quality of life than their neighbours.

On Tuesday I get on a plane to Australia to go on a sporting adventure that many don't get the chance to do once, and I shall be doing for the third time. It is thought that 40,000 are making the trip down under, the biggest travelling sporting fan support in the world. There is no guarantee of a winning series, no Cups for the winners anyway. Yet people still do it for the sense of adventure, experience, and pride in the shirt. It evokes the Empire, with the red shirts matching those of the soldiers uniform of the Jingoism of the 19th century. It involves 4 nations knocking lumps out of each other and three of them desperate to beat England. And it will generate £10 million for the home nation.

This is sport at the top level, and yet locally the Corinthian spirit will manifest itself in a local team just as easy, games played with similar pride in the shirt. Both groups understand the value of sport goes much beyond the weedy kid who's left until last.

A new President about to be elected at the club and there is sense of changing of the guard. To demonstrate the desire to build teamwork beyond the playing sides, and to drive income. So the clubhouse is knocked about gutted, plastered painted all by volunteers. Sadly this year two legends of the club passed on. To support the families, pay respects saw ex players, players, club members from 9 to 90 filled the churches, chapels, and clubhouse. Moving beyond words.

As I contemplate professional and local sport today, as I prepare to go, I realise that maybe we don't need to create community or society by making a Policy, we just need to look in the right places.

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