‘What exactly is World Sport Day?’, I hear you cry. Well (here comes the official bit), presented by Lloyds TSB in England and Wales, and Bank of Scotland in Scotland, it’s the final UK-wide Get Set event before the Games begin. Taking place on Monday 25 June, it will give young people in thousands of schools across the UK the chance to get involved in celebrating the athletes and cultures of the world.
My favourite thing about World Sport Day is that it gives schools a real sense that they’re part of something bigger. At the same time, however, it also gives them freedom to celebrate who they want and how they want – whether it’s a full day of festivities or an activity in class.
That said, there are a few specific things we're encouraging schools to do. These include hosting their own opening ceremony, staging a global showcase highlighting the different cultures of the world, or creating the flags of their chosen teams in whichever way they choose. We’ll be releasing resources every month to help them to plan their celebrations, and all participating schools will receive a fantastic event pack containing posters, certificates and more.
Left: Team GB athlete Zoe Smith joined schoolchildren to help launch the programme in style
I was invited to the event by a colleague and had been asked to be on a bus from Pudding Mill Lane at 8.10am. I have never said no to any question that contains the word 'pudding' so I arrived at the fluorescent Accreditation Centre, umbrella dripping, wondering why I’d bothered to polish my shoes. We may have been damp in body but certainly not in spirit; with the hours of planning, writing and rewriting, this day has been a long time coming.
Having only been working for the London 2012 Organising Committee for three weeks, I haven’t been waiting for nearly as long as everybody else involved, so I can hardly imagine how the rest of the team were feeling.
As we stepped into the Copper Box, the multicoloured seats and bright lights dazzled me – and not just because it was before 9am and I hadn’t had my morning cup of tea! We set to work constructing pop-ups and making sure the flag display on the floor was not wonky.
As the young people arrived, there was no doubting how excited they were. An animated pupil from Ripple Primary School’s Samba group turned to me and said: ‘I’ve been practising my smile… but I can’t stop!’. I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect quote for my first blog post.
I led the pupils down the stairs to the roar of Samba drums, and as one particularly vivacious boy danced around the floor in what can only be described as sheer elation, I knew the day was going to be just fine. As I watched Jonathan Edwards chat to the captivated children about the flags painted across their cheeks, he got out his phone and showed them a video clip of his famous triple jump. Then, before I could blink again, he was leading the children up the field of play to demonstrate what 18.29 metres looks like!
I didn’t know where to look next – should I focus on Paralympian Charlie Walker and Team GB weightlifter Zoe Smith playing volleyball with a giant inflatable globe, or should I keep an eye on Fijian judoka Sisilia Rasokisoki, who had Wenlock in some kind of inescapable hold?!
Without a doubt my favourite moment of the day was watching the Samba group rock out while world-renowned athletes joyfully played the maracas and Wenlock and Mandeville danced the hand-jive. I won’t be forgetting today's event in a hurry, and I really hope you’re all inspired to find out more about World Sport Day!
Visit London 2012 World Sport Day and see how your children, friends, school or community can join in in celebrating the athletes and cultures of the world.