Thursday, January 10, 2008

Brown: 'Beckham's an inspiration'

Gordon Brown has met David Beckham at his southeast London football academy to view how it is working with potential future stars.

The Prime Minister wants Beckham to inspire a generation of youngsters to play sport and adopt healthy lifestyles.

Mr Brown was shown the educational programmes provided for youngsters including lessons in nutrition and team building.

Afterwards he spoke of his belief that the England footballer could inspire children, and help the Government's target of every child having five hours of sport a week in school.

He said: "I want to see what goes on here having an influence in every part of the country. It's David Beckham's idea, he thought of this first and it has been a dream come true for him.

"You don't have to be brilliant at sport to benefit from this and you can see what the kids are taking in about nutrition, diet and fitness."

He added: "You can see from the kids that they are listening to what David says. He has support right across the country and what he does as an ambassador for sport generally is something we should be proud of."

Pilot schemes are set to be rolled out by the Beckham academy in the Midlands, North West, and west of England, with coaches trained at the centre going into schools.

Mr Brown added: "It may not happen in exactly the same way (as this academy) - we could have coaches in different areas, we could attach to schools and other facilities.

"I would like to see the sparkle, the excitement and the enthusiasm reflected in children in every part of the country having the chance to benefit from these courses.

"That's what we are looking at now, whether we can help get these courses into other parts of the country."

Beckham said: "It's a proud day for us today. To have the Prime Minister visiting the academy and keen to get involved in everything we believe in is just an incredible thing for us.

"It is not just great for me, but also the kids here and the staff. I didn't just open the academy for kids with ability, we also want kids who have never kicked a ball in their lives to come.

"The interest has been incredible, we have had 20,000 kids come through the schools programme - which is free.

"Now we are expanding by putting coaches through courses and sending them on the road throughout England to go to schools and teach the programmes we teach here in the academy."

Source: ITN

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