Over the past years I have had dealings with a number of sporting charities and each one in their own way has done an excellent job in helping to develop grassroots sporting opportunities. My most recent contact has been with the Greenhouse Schools Charity, a charity that has been particularly proactive in the sport of table tennis and has been largely responsible for a mini renaissance of table tennis in London, particularly at school level. In fact, the club that I helped develop and manage over the past twenty years, London Progress, has now come under the Greenhouse umbrella and is now commonly known as Greenhouse Progress. 


Against individual sporting charities and their leading personnel I have no axe to grind. I would however like to take a particularly sharpened axe to the whole concept of charities being encouraged to fill the void left by habitual government under funding of grassroots sport. It is as if we have returned to the 19th century where a handful of deserving waifs get a philanthropic handout from generous wealthy do-gooders much like that described in a Dickens novel. The whole process is totally random. One school might get a charitable boost, another will miss out. One sport might become flavour of the month, another sport will be totally ignored. One promising athlete may get a helping-hand, another hundred will fall by the wayside for lack of funding. Some might argue, something is better than nothing, but I would respond; what a way to run a national sporting programme!

When it comes to charities the question that keeps raising its ugly head is, why. Whether it be the mighty Bill and Melissa Gates Foundation or the more modest charities doing the rounds in the UK sporting arena, the question still begs an answer. Is it a purely altruistic pulse, seeking to do good works with wealth they have acquired well beyond their needs. Or might it be a pulse of guilt over ruthlessly acquired millions. Or perhaps a form of social enhancement where after a period of good deed doing a knighthood or some similar social recognition is bestowed upon the gracious benefactor. This of course is mere speculation and the real motive for charitable works may well be a complex interaction of many factors. But one cannot help but suppose that if every wealthy individual or institution paid their full quota of tax without recourse to clever accountants and dodgy tax havens there might well be enough loot in the state coffers to properly fund a nationwide community sports programme that was not dependent on charities at all. Furthermore, if there was some serious joined up thinking at national government level about the huge resources currently allocated to the youth criminal justice system and the health battles against obesity, alcoholism and drug abuse, then we might just see some of those resources being profitably diverted towards a comprehensive community sports programme. As the old adage goes; prevention is better than cure.

Last Updated ( Monday, 29 October 2012 12:26 )