Sports Politics: Sproat's team talk

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The Independent Online
IAIN SPROAT, the minister responsible for sport, yesterday extolled the social benefits of team games and emphasised his determination to restore them to British schools.

'I think if we had more organised team games in schools, we would have fewer little thugs like those who murdered James Bulger on the streets,' he said at the Sports Writers' Association lunch. 'It affects the whole character of a generation, not to mention the health of a nation.

'We are breeding a fat, flabby, unhealthy generation of children who are going to turn into fat, flabby adults prone to heart disease.

The minister backed the idea of sporting personalities - he mentioned Spurs' Gary Mabbutt - visiting schools and acting as role models for children.

He also announced his intention to form a more coherent structure of sporting administration by Easter to replace what he described as the 'potential muddle' involving bodies such as the Sports Council, the Central Council for Physical Recreation and the British Olympic Organisation.

Referring to Manchester's failure to secure the Olympics of 2000, he said: 'Nobody cared tuppence about putting the Olympic Games in this country. That is wrong. But we don't have influence and prestige and I want to put that right.'

Sproat's first action upon taking up his present position was to halt the move towards forming a further tier of sporting administration, the UK Commission for Sport.

'The less that can be spent on administration and the more on playing games the better,' he said. While accepting that the Sports Council had been trying to get its priorities right, he criticised it for failing to keep a tight control over the grants it gave out.