When I was working for Diabetes UK, I provided some help to London’s NHS which was starting to plan for the 2012 Olympics.
We discussed how we could provide care to the hundred of competitors and many thousands of spectators, but also how we might achieve a health legacy.
I learned a shocking fact: no country that had ever hosted the Games had managed to achieve an improvement in public health as a consequence.
We know London 2012 has been a huge catalyst in getting people of all ages interested in taking up a sport and being more active, so what gets in the way of folk doing this?
Much of it is down to lack of opportunity. Over the past decade I have seen pretty much every playing field in our city come under threat of closure at some time or another – cricket pitches, football pitches and bowling greens in particular.
We have a beautiful swimming pool at the Mountbatten Centre, but schools struggle to make best use of it as coach hire costs soar.
Schools work hard to provide the widest sport experience they can, but there is more to be gained by facilitating an introduction between those looking to get active and the activities available in the city.
We must protect the sports facilities we do have and ensure that there are no barriers to accessing them.
We should support community sports and activity groups in being able to market themselves effectively via schools and by better use of new and social media and provide taster opportunities for people to try out new experiences.
We must increase provision in the city and in particular the opportunities there are to swim. And we must ensure a good geographical spread of facilities across the city.
I am pleased to see organisations such as Heart of Portsmouth Boxing Club, based in the south of the city, bringing their coaching to young people in the north.
We need to seize opportunities to increase provision and participation in sport.