Sport – Essential to the Well-Being of the Island
Equality, Diversity and Inclusion will be central to our vision for sport moving forward. Sport at all levels be it competing, volunteering, coaching or managing must be accessible to as many islanders as possible. To deliver on this commitment requires leadership both from government and all the representative bodies. Working together will be the key to success and that will at times mean compromise, and the ability to embrace difference. As we expect our wider society to embrace change, then The Progress Party believes sport must do the same.
We have incredibly dedicated and talented athletes in Jersey, and we will continue to produce more. We must, as we support and educate young people in their physical development, ensure that all children are afforded the opportunity to physically develop to their full potential. Much has been done through the Fit for the Future Strategy (2014 – 2018) by developing a physical literacy programme within schools, and The Progress Party will support this programme being introduced throughout all primary schools. We will also ensure that the programme is followed through into secondary education. However, we believe that this programme should be administered through ‘ Wellbeing Jersey ‘, a new body that will oversee the physical and mental wellbeing of islanders. This is included within our Wellbeing policy.
Having the core skills to be physically literate is only part of the story. it is essential that young islanders have the opportunity to participate in as many sports as possible so that they can find a sport that best suits them. To do this we will commit as government to build closer relationships with sports associations and clubs. Working together, and liaising closely with managers and coaches, will provide the opportunities to identify those talented youngsters who could be provided with a pathway to compete at the highest level.
As part of the original Fit for the Future Strategy the States of Jersey formed Jersey Sport as the new co-ordinating body to provide a strong independent voice for the local sporting community. The Progress Party believe its vital that Jersey Sport re-focus its attention on providing that voice but more importantly concentrate their efforts on promoting sport and increasing participation, particularly in the younger age groups. After the impacts of Covid, there has never been a more important time for sport in Jersey to be led dynamically. As part of this leadership, Jersey Sport should set ambitious targets for our local athletes be it when competing locally, nationally or internationally at events or major games. One of these targets must be to have Jersey representation at the Los Angeles Olympics in 2028 at the latest.
Jersey Sport has very laudable aims and has, under their current structure, aimed to support government in improving the health of the island more generally. However, and as mentioned above, The Progress Party supports a change in direction when it comes to promoting the wider physical and mental health of the island. ‘Wellbeing Jersey‘ would take responsibility for Jerseys Health and Wellbeing Framework and would set direction and be held accountable under a better resourced Public Health Unit. The political responsibility would be held by the Health and Social Services Minister, and the Minister would be responsible for the delivery of the ‘Inspiring an Active Jersey Strategy 2020- 2030’. The delivery of physical health promotion programmes would remain as part of Jersey Sports core activities, but the proposed change would allow Jersey Sport to focus on the support and promotion of sport whilst still providing independent advice to government on other policy areas such the sports facilities strategy and active travel.
When we were children many of us had dreams of emulating the sport stars we saw on television or, if we had been lucky enough, had an opportunity to meet. Our current children have dreams of being the next Marcus Rashford, Adam Peaty, Laura Kenny or Johnny Peacock. However, if they are to reach their full potential, and possibly play at this elite level, it’s important that we provide the right opportunities and support to our young athletes at the right time in their development.
Jersey has a proud record in producing world class athletes for over a century, but our last Olympian was the swimmer Simon Militis back in Sydney 2000 although Alex Coleborn, the freestyle BMX rider, was on the shortlist for the recent Tokyo Games. How do we measure sporting success as an island and should we look to be more ambitious? The Progress Party believes the answer is yes. We are committed to supporting sport and all of its participants after the elections in June 2022.
Anyone that was in Jersey during the NatWest Island Games witnessed our talented athletes competing at a high level in 14 different sports. Everyone felt they were very much part of the success that brought 50 Gold, 53 Silver and 30 Bronze medals to Jersey athletes. We all felt the excitement, the joy, the disappointment and the pain of the athletes as they competed over 7 gruelling days. The feeling of pride in our sportsmen and women flowed throughout our community. For many, participating in the Island Games was the pinnacle of their sporting lives, but The Progress Party believe we should set a path that provides an opportunity for the very best to achieve even greater success. If we are prepared to invest in our talented athletes we will be asking them to commit their lives to ‘shooting for the moon’, but if they miss we will know they ‘landed among the stars’.
What do we mean ? The Progress Party is supportive of providing inspirational and good quality sporting facilities that can improve access to all islanders. Although we support the rationale behind the ‘Inspiring Active Places’, we are now entering a post Covid period when available funding on capital projects across government will be stretched to the limit. The Progress Party will look at which projects should take priority by considering, amongst other things, the impact that any new or refurbished sports facility will have on the local community, and the availability of public/private funding.
We are supportive of public/private partnerships where it can be shown that any project will have long term benefit to both the local sporting community and the island in general. The new facility at the Rugby Club in St Peter built by Ben Harvey (Strive) is a good example of government working with a private operator. Although a 100 % privately funded venture, government have acted in a supportive way during the planning process and secured long term community use of the centre. Such initiatives will be actively supported by The Progress Party through similar future support.
also What is our developing Sports Policy ?
We will ensure that Sport and Wellbeing are given the necessary political support. The Progress Party will promote a new Ministerial role to cover these areas, or at the very least support the role being given to a dedicated Assistant Minister with the necessary delegated responsibility.
The Progress Party will introduce a voluntary Governance Code for Sport. This will set out what is expected from clubs and associations in broadening participation at all levels within their organisations, and from coaching to Board level to support equality, diversity and inclusion.
The Progress Party will set up a Talented Athlete Group (TAG) to identify and oversee the development of talented local athletes. TAG will include former high performing athletes who, as part of the group, can advise and mentor young “up and coming” athletes. We will also introduce a Talented Athlete Programme funded by the local Christmas Lottery in order to support and develop talented sports people.
Within six months of the election The Progress Party will review the remit of Jersey Sport to include the terms of reference, funding, administration and future aims and objectives. We will carry out a focused review of the Active Places Strategy to identify any new priority projects.
If not completed by the June elections, The Progress Party will commit to delivering a new skatepark as a priority. If a planning permit has been issued, we will complete the project by the end of 2022.