London: Boris Johnson called for all children to have to do two hours of school sport each day — just like he did at Eton.
In an implied criticism of the Government’s decision to scrap Labour’s two-hour-a-week target for compulsory sport, the Mayor of London said ministers should set the bar even higher.
I would like to see, frankly, the kind of regime I used to enjoy — compulsory two hours sport every day. I’ve no doubt that is the sort of thing that would be wonderful for kids across this country
He described widening pupils’ participation in sport after the Olympics as of ‘profound’ importance for the ‘happiness and success’ of the country.
The mayor said there were already attempts in London to do so, but added: “I would like to see a much more thorough-going effort. I think we must build on the achievements of these Games.
“I think the Government totally understands people’s appetite for this, they can see the benefits of sport and what it does for young people. I think they understand very, very clearly the social and economic advantages.
“I would like to see, frankly, the kind of regime I used to enjoy — compulsory two hours sport every day. I’ve no doubt that is the sort of thing that would be wonderful for kids across this country.”
Ed Miliband will today also criticise the Coalition for cutting school sport funding and for axing the two-hour-a-week target, claiming there has been a 60 per cent reduction in the number of hours dedicated to organising it.
Both Mr Johnson and David Cameron were educated at Eton College, before going on to Oxford.
Scholars at Eton have to do at least 45 minutes of sport a day, and often much more. It’s not quite clear, however, how much good it did the mayor.
He has admitted that he is ‘basically useless’ at cricket, and when he took part in a charity football match some years ago he mistakenly deployed a rugby tackle.
Last night a spokesman said Johnson had been a ‘reasonable’ rugby player at Eton, and went on to play rugby for Balliol College, Oxford.
“There is a rugby ball in the office which he spins from time to time,” he said. “He would be the first to admit he is no Bradley Wiggins or Jessica Ennis, but he is an enthusiastic participant in sport.
‘And those who have seen him play say he is also not bad at table tennis.”
When he played a normal tennis match against Mr Cameron in Trafalgar Square last year, however, he came off worse.
Both men have said they would like Team London volunteers ‘mobilised’ after the Games to help children take part in sport.
Cameron said: “One of the most impressive things I have seen at this Olympics is this army of volunteers, and volunteer spirit is something we also have to continue as we go ahead.
“We’re setting up a charity called Join In and we’re going to be contacting them and getting them to help with things like sports clubs.”
Tessa Jowell, Labour’s Olympics spokesman, called on all political parties to commit to a ten-year plan for sport to build on the public enthusiasm for London 2012.
She said: ‘Schools that do a lot of sport tend to have better behaviour, less truancy, more children arriving on time. Schools that major on sport show better academic results, often from a very low base.’