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Sport & Politics,

I have always believed, and wished, that sport and politics would never meet. Now please don’t read me wrong here, I am not talking of the political elements of sport, an example of which is say something like a GB Football team for London 2012, or the pros & cons of a salary cap in football, no what I am talking about is when politicians start being seen in the same photos as gold medal winners, or people with a non-sport agenda start trying to blow out the Olympic flame.  That just so bugs me.

History is full of examples, boycotts of countries, sporting bans, the whole situation with the LA & Moscow Olympics, no cricket tours of say South Africa or now Zimbabwe, the list is endless. Sport can play a part, it is a factor, an element of day to day life, but for me it always appears to be one of the first weapons used when something happens. One of the real positives of the Beijing games was the medal won by Afghanistan, just consider that for a moment, they won a medal, they joined the world, they competed, and won a medal. Sport unifies.

However all that said, never has sport, politics and a city been so entwined as my home city of London is right now. 1430 or so days until the London 2012 games and the real need for full and total unity between the three things has never been so required. Yesterday in London there were two near riots, loosely connected to Notting Hill Carnival, the main thing being that a number of young people thought the best way to have a good day out was to kick off and have a ruck. Nothing new there. But here is a real opportunity, sport is possible the best way to give these kids a purpose. If they want to fight, give them a judo mat or boxing gloves, if they can out-run the old Bill, get them on a track, and if they are so handy with a blade then the GB fencing team may be interested, sport can really give them a reason, a sense of pride and a purpose.

The opportunity for the trilogy of London, Politics and Sport is clear, and it is real. But it must move fast, it must be decisive, and it has to be funded. Where is the great leader when you really need one. Where is the person, who is the one person that could create what is needed, build it, fund it, and deliver it. London as a city needs it, London as a society needs it, the young of London deserve it, and in time the people of this great city would cheer it, when it harvests the glory.

Being part of a gang is about a number of things, but amongst the elements are factors like pride, loyalty, belonging, purpose, protection, a sense of real worth, and of creating hope that one’s life will somehow get better. Well learning a martial art or how to box will give them all that. Another reason is because they want something to do, well a few hours on a bike, or rowing would burn all the energy they could muster. Sport can provide this.

In history a lot of sports have their origins in combat, a lot of sport grew out of combat training, and even sports like football have old versions that are akin to gang warfare. So the synergy is there.

So UKSport, Boris, Mr Brown, Tessa, Lord Coe and the rest, seize the day, grab the massive opportunity that is right in front of you. I can’t think of a different analogy, but you really can kill a lot of birds with the one stone here, and all it takes is for you to be selfish and see that you all want the same thing and so work towards it.        

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