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Mandela sports fund proposal

A SCHOLARSHIP fund for youngsters who have used sport to break down social barriers is under consideration by the Sports Minister.

Shona Robison has pledged to look at proposals by Labour and the Conservatives for a sports scholarship fund, a suggestion inspired by Nelson Mandela's remarks on the power of sport to tackle discrimination. Those on low incomes or locked out of private school sporting facilities face greater obstacles to sporting achievement, opposition parties claim.

A scholarship fund, perhaps in Mr Mandela's name, and greater links between state and private schools could provide a solution, they said. Ms Robison recognised Mr Mandela's respect for sport's ability to break down barriers, quoting from a speech he gave in 2000.

"Sport has the power to change the world," Mr Mandela said at the Laureus World Sports Awards in Monaco.

"It has the power to inspire, it has the power to unite people in a way that little else does. It speaks to youth in a language they understand.

"Sport can create hope, where once there was only despair. It is more powerful than governments in breaking down racial barriers. It laughs in the face of all types of discrimination."

Echoing these words, Labour sports spokeswoman Patricia Ferguson said: "Perhaps the minister would consider establishing a scholarship fund in the name of Nelson Mandela which would help to fund the sporting or academic achievements of young people from low income backgrounds, or those who have shown a real commitment to use sport to help to break down barriers."

Ms Robison described Mr Mandela's words on sport as "truly uplifting".

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