In praise of amateur sports & interests

“You wonna be supportin’ Cambourne!” said the 6ft-something rugby trainer of Cambourne Exiles in a very loud Barry Fry/Harry Redknapp/no-nonsense accent as he grabbed me by the shoulders while watching them take on (and ultimately win against) Cantabrigian RUFC.

It was the first time I’d watched a game of rugby ‘in the flesh’ since my secondary school days. When I last played rugby union, lifting in line-outs were banned (compare vintage footage of England’s 1991 World Cup team with the team that performed so poorly in the 2011 tournament). I was also surprised to see the concept of uncontested scrums – something that I’d not picked up until today. (Club rugby-watchers will be familiar with the debate around this issue).

It was more a case of wanting to get out of the house without doing something that involves shopping (whether for food, clothes or books) and wanting to enjoy what’s left of the warm autumn before things get cold. Thus a nice afternoon was spent crashed out on the playing fields of my old sixth form college where, some years even before then I was playing football in the months that followed England’s 1990 Italia ’90 campaign.

Many people give time, money and effort for the benefit of their communities and those that live & work within them. Many also go unrecognised, ignored or even, for example in the case of match officials, insulted & abused. So this short blogpost pays tribute to those people who do great stuff in their – our – communities.

For those of you who would like someone who made an outstanding contribution to your community over an extended period of time, you and those around you may wish to nominate them for a state honour. If it all looks a little too confusing, give the Honours Secretariat in Cabinet Office a call – they’ll be more than happy to take you through the process. (Just don’t tell the person that you are nominating).

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