Politicians accused by Town chairman

IPSWICH Town chairman David Sheepshanks has accused leading politicians of failing to grasp the beneficial influence sport can have on society.Speaking at the launch of the club's community trust scheme Ripple Effect Study Centre at Oulton Broad, Sheepshanks attacked the two leading political parties for failing to understand how sport is helping in educating today's youngsters.

By Derek Davis

By Derek Davis

IPSWICH Town chairman David Sheepshanks has accused leading politicians of failing to grasp the beneficial influence sport can have on society.

Speaking at the launch of the club's community trust scheme Ripple Effect Study Centre at Oulton Broad, Sheepshanks attacked the two leading political parties for failing to understand how sport is helping in educating today's youngsters.

Sheepshanks said: “We have had the two main party conferences and neither the Prime Minister nor David Cameron have made proper mention of the role that sport has in modern day politics and that is highly regrettable.

“Whether politicians don't understand what goes on at grassroots level I don't know. They should come and talk to the pupils, teachers and families all around the country that are involved in these Playing For Success projects or other community courses that we run.

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“We are grateful for the support we have from Suffolk County Council and the Department of Education but I wish it was given an even greater profile by government.

“The position of Minister for Sport should operate at a higher level, even cabinet level, because sport is a phenomenally powerful tool in any government's armoury if used properly.

“I'm amazed that none of the parties put sport higher in their manifesto.”

Sheepshanks used figures collated nationally from clubs involved in Playing For Success schemes, such as the one at Portman Road and another run by the club at the National Stud at Newmarket, to back his argument.

He said: “Power of sport is an overused cliché these days but this is genuinely what it is. It is using what turns a lot of children on to stimulate their education and the results are stunning.”

“In primary numeracy it is a 17-month improvement in a 10-week course and in secondary numeracy it is a 24-month improvement in a 10-day course. These are national statistics, not just Ipswich Town.

“So it works in the community and for the football club.”

The Blues first launched their Playing for Success scheme in 2001 and Sheepshanks insists it has helped increase their supporter base.

He said: “What it does for the club is long term development of our fan base. We can put our best foot forward in the community and be able to connect with huge numbers of young children, not to mention their parents, teachers and their schools.

“We are being seen to be socially responsible within the community which helps us grow our fan base by reaching out to people we would not ordinarily be able to meet.

“While we have suffered a dip in season tickets the figures bear it out over the period we have been involved in Playing for Success.”

derek.davis@archant.co.uk