On behalf of Diane Modahl, Former Olympic and Commonwealth Athlete and Founder and CEO of the DMSF (www.dmsf.co.uk)
Following on from the ‘surprise’ sugar tax announcement in yesterday’s Budget – which is set to raise an estimated £520 million and boost sporting opportunities in primary schools and afterschool activities in secondary schools – former Olympian Diane Modahl has passionately expressed her support of the news.
She comments: “I think it’s truly fantastic news. And long overdue. We’ve been battling an obesity epidemic in the UK for far too long and the long-term effects on our children is already apparent with sugar-related illnesses assisted by our lethargic lifestyles. I have three daughters – my eldest is 20 and my youngest just 8 – and I’ve seen a dramatic change over their lifetimes regarding sports, diet and education on both issues – which as a parent, I’ve tried to encourage balance.
“The world is such a very different place to when I was a child. We no longer let our children run free on local fields, playing with their friends until the sun goes down, nor do they play on the streets with neighbours – sadly the perception is that it’s not safe to do so nowadays. But we’re not helping our future by allowing hours upon hours of social media, gaming and sitting around being generally inactive. Encouraging our children to communicate face-to-face, play sports in a designated area, join local teams and social groups – to just get out there and live a little, but more importantly – to be active is paramount.
“I also think that our youngsters aren’t encouraged to partake in sports as much as they could be. I’m fully aware that a number of sporting options are very expensive hobbies, which many parents just can’t afford to send their kids to. This is one of the reasons I set up the Diane Modahl Sports Foundation (DMSF) – to give young people across Greater Manchester access to world class coaching and coaches. We support and mentor young people to realise their potential in sport, education and in life – using sport as the catalyst to challenge and engage young people.
“The DMSF is now active in a number of primary and secondary schools – mainly in disadvantaged areas of Greater Manchester – and we’ve helped kids, who may never have imagined setting foot on an athletics track, believe in their ability and secure scholarships to International Universities and even sport England vests! I wasn’t entirely sure I could do this when I set up the DMSF in 2010, but with the inspired and committed team I’m honoured to work alongside, I’m now convinced I’ll see our participants at future Olympic Games. The possibilities are endless with the right support and dedication – I should know.
“If the sugar tax can indeed raise the estimated £520 million that has been quoted, a genuine difference can be made in our schools and hopefully we’ll start to see a reverse in the damage that’s been done sooner rather than later. I wholeheartedly back educating our young people in taking responsibility in their own futures – and that ultimately starts with their health.”