by Phil Atkinson
Those of a certain age will remember the “Sport for All” campaign back in the 70’s and 80’s that was intended to get us all taking part in activities of all descriptions. Not everyone heeded the advice of course, but, in the main, the Sports Council were very successful at increasing participation, improving the health of the nation and contributing to the nations sporting successes in later years.
Pontefract is very fortunate to have some incredible clubs in our town, but it seems that these days we take local sport for granted. Have you ever thought what benefits to the community our local sports clubs bring?
These clubs should be celebrated. Whether it is football, cricket, squash, either code of rugby, golf or athletics, sport is not always about winning, although the element of competition is clearly very important. Simply by participating we are helping to develop a stronger, safer, healthier and happier community.
As well as the obvious benefits in terms of fitness, research has also highlighted the link between physical activity and academic achievement. So sport can not only make you healthier, it can help make you smarter too!
On a social level, sport also provides great opportunities to make friends. My own sport as a young man was Rugby Union. I started playing for Pontefract when I was 16 years old. In my mid-twenties I moved away to work in the South East of England. This could have been a difficult time, but my first move when I arrived in a strange town was to join the local rugby club. I instantly gained a circle of friends and a social life. I returned to Pontefract around 20 years ago, and picked up old friendships again immediately. As the new Chair of the club I retain many of the friends that were made in those early days.
Sport also builds character. All Rugby Union Clubs are signed up to the core rugby values. These are Teamwork, Respect, Enjoyment, Discipline and Sportmanship. These are expected of all players, supporters, coaches and anybody else who has a role within the sport. As values, they are something that we live by, and are not switched on and off when we feel like it. Other sports have their values too, and through their application I believe that sports clubs make a hugely positive contribution to the personal development of our young men and women.
I hope you agree with me that our sports clubs are a valuable asset to our community. Obviously I would like you to visit us at Pontefract Rugby Club, and maybe even come and play if you feel you can. We are a welcoming and inclusive club with teams for boys and girls of all ages. If rugby isn’t for you, I would urge you to go out and find a sport that is. Pontefract has an abundance of clubs that are worthy of your support.