From Mr Roger Putnam

Sir: I entirely support Professor Neil Armstrong ("School team sport `turns children into idle adults' ", 15 September) in his criticism of the disproportionate emphasis being placed by government ministers on traditional team games in the school PE curriculum.

The traditional team games have their place, but for many young people without good ball skills they involve little more than acting as an onlooker while the more gifted dominate the game. They do little to raise fitness levels for the majority, and often turn young people off sport for good. There are better alternatives; for instance, volleyball, which can be played in relatively confined spaces, involves far more active participation than cricket or soccer, and requires better teamwork.

Many outdoor activities have the merit of giving sustained cardio-vascular exercise while providing aesthetic and intellectual stimulus as well. Orienteering requires little in the way of equipment, challenges decision- making as well as physical agility and speed, can be approached either as a team or an individual event, is popular with both sexes, and takes competitors deep into the natural environment.

Perhaps most important, young people who have an introduction to such outdoor activities at school are more likely to pursue them in later life. The school sports field has a part to play in physical education, but for many young people it is not the best place to whet their appetite for continuing physical pursuits.

Yours sincerely,

Roger Putnam

Chair, Council for

Outdoor Education Training

and Recreation (England,

Wales and N Ireland)

Ravenglass, Cumbria

16 September

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