'Sport focuses on achievement and develops people's team-based skills'

November 2, 2007

The head of the new UK Universities Sport plans to boost participation and encourage outreach work. Ed Smith, head of the newly created UK Universities Sport, has a clear idea about how higher education's sports facilities can help to improve the nation's health.

"If the agenda is about a healthy nation and the role that sport can play in a healthy nation, then there is much more that universities can contribute as part of their community involvement," he says.

Mr Smith joins UK Universities Sport from accountancy firm Pricewaterhouse-Coopers. The new body was created from a merger of the British Universities Sports Association, which runs university sport, and University and College Sport, comprising facilities staff.

The self-confessed sports fanatic is a graduate of the former City of London Polytechnic, now part of London Metropolitan University, where he obtained a BA in accountancy. Mr Smith will take up his post in December.

"I genuinely see sport as a critical part of the fabric of a university. It develops young people in three ways - it focuses on personal achievement, it develops people's team-based skills and impacts on personal fitness, which helps one's day-to-day energy levels. I believe that it's very important in the development of people."

Though he feels there is more that can be done to foster potential Olympic talent, he took the job on to widen the impact universities can have on their communities.

"I said very clearly when I was prepared to take up this job that it should not just be about the elite.

"Universities are situated in wider communities and they should be leveraging their sports facilities into the wider community as part of their overall corporate social responsibility.

"I go to some institutions and I see how active some of them are at bringing young schoolchildren in. These kids have access to facilities that would simply not be available in their schools."

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