“Sport has the power to unite people in a way that little else can. Sport can create hope where there was once only despair. It breaks down racial barriers. It laughs in the face of all kinds of discrimination. Sport speaks to people in a language they can understand”. Nelson Mandela.
Britain’s international reputation is linked not only to its current and historic success in the arts, industry and commerce, but also to its strong sporting traditions in, amongst others, football, cricket, tennis, rugby, golf and athletics.
Sports facilities in parks, open spaces and local playing fields have supported and provided the launch pad for our burgeoning sporting culture and talent.
It is claimed that currently eighty per cent of amateur sports are still played on local authority pitches and recreation grounds, and millions of people visit parks and green spaces every day to get fresh air, exercise and a healthy dose of nature and outdoor life.
Green Spaces provide a venue for healthy lifestyles and contribute hugely to the 'preventative health service'
While the government and health experts are desperately trying to promote healthy lifestyles and fight obesity, the ever-deepening austerity measures in local government funding are hitting the non-statutory services such as parks and green spaces proportionally much harder than protected services such as health, social care and education. This means that natural sports pitches are generally given the minimum of investment and maintenance. Most maintenance regimes are still based on 1970s methods, whereas private and professional sports surface technology has led to amazing improvements in playability and carrying capacity.
Unfortunately, many council playing fields are now declining in quality and large numbers have recently been closed often reverting to long grass regimes to save money.