An independent body focused on sports promotion in the Island could have a “really positive impact” on child obesity, anti-social behaviour and Jersey’s ageing population, the politician leading the project has said.
Assistant Economic Development Minister, Constable Steve Pallett, who currently has responsibility for sport, is hoping that States members will back the idea to create a charitable trust - Jersey Sport - later this month.
If approved, the new body would place responsibility for sport in Jersey into the hands of an independent board, and remove it from Economic Development, Tourism, Sport and Culture.
The benefit of such a move, he told Express, is that it would facilitate private sector funding towards Island sports, which would supplement the existing States contribution of £1.15 million set aside in the Medium Term Financial Plan, expected to last until the end of 2019.
Pictured: Assistant Minister for Economic Development, Constable Steve Pallett, who currently holds responsibility for sport in Jersey.
“We’re doing this to build on the good work done by Sports Development over the last 20 to 30 years,” he commented.
Targeted areas would include tackling child overweightness and obesity – currently affecting a third of 10-11-year-olds – and supporting Jersey’s growing elderly population through exercise referral programmes.
“That senior citizen age group is going to grow, so we want to make sure we keep them fit and healthy and active… There are also opportunities to engage with Health and Education. To give young people the right discipline in regards to a good, healthy lifestyle, right diet – all these things can assist as they’re getting older to prevent the illnesses that we see at the moment,” the St Brelade Constable said.
He added that there would be a focus on enhancing the already successful community sport provisions to support “some of the more disadvantaged children” and combat anti-social behaviour in areas around Springfield and Les Quennevais.
Pictured: Springfield Pitch, a key St Helier-based sporting facility.
“There’s more work to do on that and more work around St Helier where we’ve got areas or facilities, trying to work with young people and point them in the right direction,” he said.
But such progress will only be possible if the proposition gets the go-ahead from the States Assembly when voted upon on Tuesday 23 May. Constable Pallett fears that the discussion could get derailed by, “...debate about trust structure and the company and trustees and boards and stuff like that."
“It will be exciting, but I just want the debate to be about sport. I can’t stress it enough, because I’m hearing rumours that people want to start talking about the trusts structures and how trusts work and, as much as that’s important, governance is very important.
"For me, this should be a debate about sporting excellence and how we’re going to give our young people the best opportunities to achieve the most they can in terms of their physical activity and also making sure that they enjoy it as well.”
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