For many the idea of traipsing round a soggy park in chilly temperatures may well be their idea of a quiet hell. And there will be many for whom such images draw them back to the days of draconian PE teachers and lessons that successfully turned them off sport for life.

This week as local parks bore witness to schoolkids competing in cross country competitions with an opportunity to absorb the many lessons that offers, the myopia of how sport is streamed in this country became apparent. 

For many sport remains bottom of the list of priorities when it comes to juggling time with work and other responsibilities. And figures repeatedly show that teenage girls are the worst offenders when it comes to a sharp dropping off of participation numbers as soon as they hit secondary school.

To that end, then, there is something perplexing about the continuation with sport that pushes only the best into being involved.

By all means stream elite athletes at whatever particular discipline that may be.

The selection for football appears to get younger and younger every year – and that is not without its long-term problems – but there is absolutely a common-sense element to taking out the cream of a particular age group and offering serious, tailored coaching in order that talent is maximised and every opportunity is given to the realisation of full potential.

But ultimately the fact remains that the percentages of those who reach the elite level of any sport will be minute. 

Schools, including primary, offering pathways to inter-school cross country races only for those who are the fastest and the best does a disservice to those who wish to participate but find the door closed.
For the half dozen or so who are selected, where do the 50 or 60 go who had the desire but were dismissed? The same applies with school football teams and tournaments, netball competitions, athletic meetings and so on and so forth.

There is no argument about presenting the best of the best to go up against one another in competitive sport but equally there has to be a realisation that sport has a wider societal position too.

Football is particularly guilty of hoarding young talent only to release it when that final step towards the senior first-team is too steep. Again, the percentages here are eye-watering; current figures suggest in the academy set-up in the Premiership just under 1% will make it as established professionals. 

Where do these young people then go? Without getting too much into the politics of it all, it would make sense for a forward-thinking government to utilise all the hours of coaching that they have had and offer careers within schools to ease the pressure on teaching staff.

It could keep football open to all and keep participation open to all – both male and female – while still providing elite pathways.

But refusing any kids access to sporting avenues seems myopic at a time when physical health issues remain particularly challenging. 


The post-split SWPL fixtures were released this week with Celtic and Rangers squaring up to one another again in the first game of the ten-match run-in.

Given the evidence of last Sunday when there was little between the teams it will be crucial in terms of the title race.

Jo Potter’s side remain the team to beat with a four-point cushion at the top of the table while Celtic and Glasgow City are currently level on points in second spot. All three will fancy themselves as being able to take it to the wire although the second spot also opens the door to Champions League qualifiers too.

Certainly, though, what cannot happen is a re-run of last Sunday at Ibrox with fans locked out of the game. It was a nonsense argument with the optics dreadful at a time when clubs are desperately trying to bolster attendances and attract as many people into games as possible.

It would not take much to deduce fairly quickly that the politics that surround ticket allocations for the men’s games leaked into the women’s game.

Caitlin Hayes, the Celtic defender, made her point succinctly in the aftermath of the game but it should never been necessary. And nor should it be allowed to happen again.


The Women’s Super League in England could broadcast games on Friday and Saturday nights from next season once a new TV rights deal is agreed. 

Friday night games are not entirely new, although a regular slot for TV would be a significant change from what has generally been a Sunday afternoon/evening kick-off.

According to data recently published by the Women’s Sports Trust, football dominates the public consumption of women’s sport in the UK with a market share of 74%. 

The BBC revealed in November that Chelsea’s 5-1 win over Liverpool had become the most-watched WSL fixture to date with a peak audience of 955,000 viewers. There has also been an increase in viewing figures of around 37% since last term.

The current TV deal for the English game between BBC and Sky is worth around £8m but these new proposals would more than double that figure with current estimates sitting at around £20m. 

It is understood that the BBC and Sky, along with TNT Sports and DAZN, are all in contention to be broadcast partners for the next rights cycle.

Last weekend, the Emirates had just over 60,000 supports in attendance for Arsenal’s win over Manchester United. 

Amplifying the game via television audiences is important but the increased revenue will make the English game increasingly like its male equivalent as it looks to attract the best European talent.