1997 Raising the Game Downing Street Luncheon

Fiona Murtagh, back row, third from the right, attended John Major's Raising the Game Downing Street Luncheon in the summer of 1997

Prime Minister John Major, aimed to place sport at the top of the Governments agenda as he believed that school sport was the first step towards a lifetime participation in sport.  He saw the the link between school sport and sports clubs was essential.

Raising the Game was implemented in 1995 with the goal of providing two hours a week of physical education.  It was based on the traditional sports and team games, Netball included, and would be central to the promotion of school values and character building.  It was funded by the National Lottery as a fifth strand for school sport.

However, the idea of using ‘traditional’ team sports are said to have divided the genders, nor did they engage the whole school.  Traditionally boys played rough, competitive, tactical games like football and rugby, whereas girls played low intensity, aesthetically pleasing, technical games like netball and gymnastics. (whoever had this view had obviously  never watched a game of netball played at a high level, including schools netball).  Therefore Raising the Game was deemed to be more of the same for the more able.

In spite of this, significant progress was made.  School-club links were launched, Sportsmark awards implemented to recognise good practice, teachers were encouraged to attend free NGB awards, and the World Class Performance programme was launched for the most talented athletes competing at Olympic and World Championship levels.

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