Chichester MP sees importance of sportsmaship coming first

Andrew Tyrie and Steve Crossley with pupils from St Richard's Primary School   Picture by Kate Shemilt

Andrew Tyrie and Steve Crossley with pupils from St Richard's Primary School Picture by Kate Shemilt

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SPORTSMANSHIP FIRST has won the backing of Chichester’s MP – and he has secured support for the scheme from prime minister David Cameron.

And the organisation could get a further boost if its leader gets the go-ahead to carry the Olympic torch when it passes through Chichester next summer.

Sportsmanship First is a local initiative which sees volunteers go into primary schools across the Observer area to teach youngsters the importance of playing and competing in a sporting manner by showing respect for opponents and being gracious in victory and defeat.

Conservative MP Mr Tyrie has become a keen backer of SF and saw it in action when he watched – and took part in – a workshop at St Richard’s Primary School in the city. SF president Steve Crossley even got Mr Tyrie to take part in a running-on-the-spot race.

Mr Tyrie said: “It’s fantastic to see how Sportsmanship First engages the children and gets them thinking about how to be sporting.

“We need competition in sport but it needs to be managed and this is a fine way to teach youngsters how they can enjoy sport while playing it in the right manner.”

Mr Tyrie’s lobbying of Mr Cameron and sports minister Hugh Robertson has now led to letters from the high-powered pair indicating they are impressed by the initiative and fully support it.

And now news that the Olympic torch will pass through Chichester on its way to London for next summer’s games has got SF bosses hoping they can be involved in the procession.

Ray Stafford, the president of England Fencing, is nominating Mr Crossley to carry the torch – and SF are seeking other top-level backing for the idea.

Mr Crossley said: “The Olympics and the torch relay that precedes it are an ideal event for Sportsmanship First to link into and promote our ideals.”