BRITAIN’S Olympic heroes are inspiring a generation to take up a sport.
There are Huddersfield sports club for almost every Olympic sport – and they’re seeing a upsurge in interest following the exploits of Chris Hoy, Victoria Pendleton, Ben Ainslie and Mo Farah.
Many are run by sporting volunteers who dedicate their time to making sport accessible for all.
The Prime Minister David Cameron warned there must be “a big cultural change” towards sport in schools if Britain is to capitalise on the Olympic success of Team GB.
He called for a return to the “competitive ethos” in school sports and said that while the Government was investing £1 billion in school sports over the next four years, more needed to be done if Britain was to enjoy continued sporting success in the future.
He said: “So if we want to have a great sporting legacy for our children we have got to have an answer that brings the whole of society together to crack this, more competition, more competitiveness, more getting rid of the idea all must win prizes and you can’t have competitive sports days.
“We need a big cultural change – a cultural change in favour of competitive sports. That’s what I think really matters.
“And one of the answers there is making sure the sports clubs really deliver in terms of sports in our schools.
“Link the schools with the clubs, because the clubs really believe in competition and the competitive ethos and I think that is one of the best ways to deliver what we want.”
Clubs in Huddersfield and Calderdale are up for the challenge.
The Valley Bowmen of Meltham hold an open day on Sunday, August 26, offering free taster sessions, which need to be booked.
Paul McGuire, club secretary, took up the sport four years ago and said: “The amount of enquiries we’ve had since Team GB competed has been unbelievable.
“Normally we run three beginners courses and we completed our third course on Tuesday but due to the demand we’re running another in September and have a waiting list for next May.
“We can take around 20 people each time so it shows how many people want to have a go.”
Paul, 64, was a former Huddersfield and District League footballer who loved playing with bows and arrows as a child.
“Archery is for anyone really,” he added. “As a club we take people from the age of 10 and teach them how to handle the equipment and we have around 16 juniors.”
Visit www.valleybowmen.co.uk .
Stainland Lions is one of the region’s top running clubs. Mark Pigford, men’s captain and UK Athletics coach, said: “We take people aged 16 and can help hone their skills. We do everything from 5k running to marathons and fell running and we have coaching sessions on Wednesdays.
“People don’t have to be good at running, they just need to be willing to give it a go and not be worried that everyone else will be quicker than them.
“I think the Olympics will inspire young people, especially with the success we’ve had on the track.”
Holmfirth Harriers run club sessions on Tuesday and Thursdays at 7pm. People can go along for three free sessions before joining. Longwood Harriers Athletic Club, is based at Leeds Road playing fields, and training takes place on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Membership for under 17s is £10 a year.
Mark Reynolds, of the Rawthorpe Amateur Boxing Club, is getting dozens of calls a day from parents and people wanting to have a go.
“It’s never too late to learn a sport,” Mark said. “Age isn’t a barrier for us. I’m getting calls from 16-plus who have been inspired by the Olympics. It’s fantastic what the whole of Team GB have done for sport, they really are inspiring a generation.”
Children aged five and over can go to non-contact sessions from 5-6pm to learn about health and fitness suitable to their age before gradually introducing them to boxing.
From 6-7.30pm boxing training takes place for those suitable for the sport and from 7.30pm anyone aged 14+ can go along for health and fitness.
“Kids can identify with boxing, it’s a social sport because it reaches out to young kids and installs some discipline and takes them away from anti-social behaviour,” Mark added.
“I really hope Seb Coe’s promise to get funding to grassroots sports transpires because we’ve never had any funding but we could produce the next Olympians with the right support.”
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org for more details.
Andrew Pearson, of Huddersfield Star Wheelers, said: “We’ve already had a boost this year and I think after the Olympics we’ll see more people taking up cycling.
“We run junior coaching for over fives to teach them bike skills and if people are aged over 15 they can join us on any bike ride.”
Andy Whitworth, of Try Cycling in Kirkburton, added: “Good weather and school holidays has the biggest impact on bike sales, but the Olympics have been fantastic and in the long run children will think cycling is a cool sport.
“Cycling is a no brainer, it’s reasonably cheap, good for your health, reduces congestion and families can do it together.”
Colne Valley Saddle Club opens its doors to the public this Sunday, August 12, from 9.30am so people can find out more about dressage, showjumping and training for members. Ros Lawton, secretary, said: “I think the Olympics has created more interest in equestrian sports, more people are certainly watching it for the first time.”
Greetland Goldstars have already met Olympians during a visit to London 2012 and former girls manager Jason Raine says the Games will inspire young girls: “Girls football is up and coming and seeing the women’s football in the Olympics and on TV will make a big difference.
“At a really young age is should be about taking part, giving people a chance, but competitiveness is important at an older age.” His daughter Lucy, 12, a pupil at Brooksbank School in Elland still plays for the Goldstars.
Scammonden Water Sailing Club volunteers run junior coaching on Saturday afternoons, teaching junior members how to sail for £2 per session, plus £3 per session for boat hire if needed.
Sailing captain Ben Ratcliffe said: “Sailing is a great physical, fresh air outdoor sport but you don’t have to be super fit to sail, it will improve fitness as you learn and people can race or just cruise around.”
Flexible taster sessions for families and adults also take place and visit www.scammondensailing.com for details.