By Rory Murphy

Conservative List MSP Maurice Corry has sought assurances from the SNP government – should it be returned to power at Holyrood – what action it is taking to ensure wider accessibility to organised sport for children and young people once Covid restrictions on this are lifted. 

The Minister for Public Health and Sport , Mairi Gougeon, told him: “Physical activity and sport have a crucial role to play in Scotland’s recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic. The active schools programme will remain a central pillar in getting young people to participate in sport. It will be vital to work with and listen to young people to rebuild their enthusiasm for sport.

“The programme for government commits the Scottish Government to working with sportscotland and Scottish governing bodies of sport to rebuild membership and participation levels following the negative impacts of Covid-19.

John Corry MSP,  Mairi Gougeon, Sports Minister and young children from Helensburgh at playaway day.

“We will also build on the positive changes in sport and physical activity, such as increased walking and cycling, that we have seen during the Covid19 pandemic to build wider community participation, particularly in disadvantaged and underrepresented communities.”

Mr Corry, replied: “There is understandable concern that Covid-19 has exacerbated inequality of access to sport for children from disadvantaged communities, at the same time worsening the impact on their mental health and well-being.

“Will the minister give details about how the Scottish Government is actively assisting local authorities in ensuring that every child is able to participate in organised sport, such as swimming lessons, especially given the role that sport can play in bridging the inequality gap for those living in poverty?”

Mairi Gougeon told him: “The member is right. We see that as a key focus of our transition out of the pandemic, as physical activity is hugely important in improving physical and mental health.

“There is important work with active schools. Funding of £900,000 for sport facilities was announced today by sportscotland. That will be invested in clubs, communities and leisure trusts and will do exactly what the member is asking for, providing diverse and inclusive opportunities.

“It will improve community access to sport and physical activity. The First Minister[Nicola Sturgeon] today outlined a summer programme of activities, in which I hope that sport and physical activity will play a key role.”

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