Wednesday, 29 June 2011

London 2012 - To The Point

Like many others my potentially bank busting efforts to get a ticket, just about any ticket, for London 2012 have failed. Am I bothered, well yes actually but I expect I’ll get over it. In the meantime, however, and whilst pondering the injustice of it all, my thoughts have turned towards other questions arising from the process. If, for example, we are all experiencing such hard times how come the offer was oversubscribed so many times over? What has been the impact of so much cash being tied up over the last month or so waiting for the call? And, if the chance to attend the Games has passed so many people by will there be other opportunities arising from them?

Maybe less cash was tied up than we might suppose, perhaps most people were simply gambling on their credit cards not getting ‘maxed out’. We will probably never know but it will be interesting to see if there is any impact on the various economic indicators covering the period when they are published over the next few months. In time, though, what may come to be regarded as more important is whether the games were fully exploited for the benefit of the widest number of people.

Lest anyone should think I am anything other than totally supportive of the Games I would just like to say that, like millions of other people, I am delighted that London won the bid for the 2012 Games and will bathe in the glow of what I am sure will be one of the most memorable events to have occurred in the UK during my lifetime. I am delighted that they are here and, apart from the many social and sporting benefits they will undoubtedly bring, I am convinced that they will also have a significant impact on the country’s economy. Nevertheless I am not blind to the opportunities that may be missed.

I have always thought that the best possible Games legacy would be the raising of peoples aspirations in general and those of young people in particular. Not just as the result of witnessing great sporting achievements but also arising from the tremendous feats involved in constructing the stadia and other facilities on time and largely to budget. With a year to go it is not too late, and maybe plans are already in place, to fully exploit the inspiring stories arising from planning, building and delivering the greatest show on earth.

Does it matter? Yes I think so. At a time when more than ever we need to be competitive raising aspirations and developing a greater understanding of the value of skills is essential. The Games presents a wonderful opportunity to facilitate this, and to promote the benefits of Apprenticeships and other forms of training, whilst demonstrating the ability of people in this country to achieve great things and by showcasing the development of new technologies. I understand perfectly well the need to have pushed on and build facilities without undue constraint or distraction but, given that so much seems to have been delivered ahead of time, might more have been done. Thus far it would seem that more effort still is required to engage young people and their teachers in particular in the non-sporting aspects of the games.

I am convinced that the Games will live long in the memory being right up there with events such as Stevenage FC winning back to back promotions and Saracens winning the Guinness Premiership for the first time (many congratulations to them both). We will, of course, remember and celebrate our sporting winners but I also hope that we will look back and recall how the Games inspired a generation of young people to greater achievements in other aspects of their lives.