March 2019: News from your local MP

March 05 2019

Grassroots sport is thriving

IN 2017, Bristol was declared a European City of Sport. As well as our long-established football teams, Rovers and City, our rugby team, the Bristol Bears, and the cricket, there is so much more going on in the city at grassroots level.
You could hardly have missed Prince Harry and Meghan’s recent visit to Bristol, where they stopped by Empire Fighting Chance - a boxing club in Easton which I’ve visited a couple of times; it does great work fighting the impact of deprivation on the lives of young people. Marvin Rees, Mayor of Bristol, was taken under the wing of Dennis Stinchcombe at Broad Plain boxing club as a teenager, and, more locally, we have the successful Downend Boxing Club, which has had young boxers go on to the England Boxing National Schools Academy.
Snooker is also a sport with strong ties to Bristol. The tables used in the top tournaments assembled and maintained by World Snooker Services, a company based in Fishponds. The world governing body, the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association, is also based in Bristol, and of course, Bristol’s Judd Trump has just won the Masters.
I have recently become involved in a new All-Party Snooker Group, which is campaigning for funding for snooker from Sports England the sport (it gets nothing at present) so that it can develop at grassroots level, including encouraging people with disabilities, seniors, and more women, to start playing the game.
As well as funding for grassroots sports, we also need more funding for youth services, so they can provide opportunities for young people to get involved in physical activities. Last year, I met a group of teenagers at Hillfields Youth Centre, where they play basketball on Monday evenings. The group told me they would be there every evening, if there was the funding to open the centre for them.
Park runs are another great initiative, including the one at Eastville Park, and the juvenile Park Run. With childhood obesity at chronic levels - we now have, proportionately, more obese 11 year olds than the United States - it’s great to see kids of all abilities out doing some exercise.
Involvement in sport can bring huge benefits to people and communities: an increase in mental and physical wellbeing; a route out for those at risk of criminal offending; a way of bringing people from different walks of life together; a boost to the local economy. We must ensure that grassroots sports are given the investment they need, so that no one is turned away because of a lack of provision. I’m glad the city council recognises the importance of this, and I will continue to lobby the Government for better resources too.
If you would like to contact Kerry or her office you can call during weekdays on 0117 939 9901 (between 10am and 1pm) or email at kerry.mccarthy.mp@parliament.uk