Below is the text of Mr Major’s comments on sport in schools, made during an interview held in London on Friday 14th July 1996.
[Mr Major was asked if it was a personal mission for him to get more sports played in schools].
In a sense it would, yes. One has seen the decline in school sport for 25 maybe 30 years and I think if we are really going to reach the quality of sport at the top levels that I would like to see, it has to start at the bottom levels so you need sport back in schools, but I think we need it also if we are going to see a renaissance in sport right across the country. It isn’t only for people who are good at it, it is for people who enjoy it and I think today we have taken quite a large step towards that.
[Mr Major was asked why sport was important and whether some people thought it wasn’t necessary].
I suppose some people would, but I don’t think you have a rounded life just by having a career and a fat wallet. There are many things beyond that, sports is one, the arts are another and the underlying thought when I decided to proceed with a lottery was neither arts nor sport nor heritage, none of those things, would ever get the resources they need out of the taxpayer’s pocket, there would always be greater demands and the only way to provide those resources was the lottery and get for millions of people better sporting facilities, a better quality of sport, a better opportunity to take part in sport or indeed a better opportunity to see art; it is an important part of their lives.
[Mr Major was asked whether there were some advantages in playing sport that helped develop people].
I don’t want to be pompous about it but I think there are. I think it is character-building. Life is competitive; one thing is certain about competitive sport, you either win or you lose and you have to learn to win and you have to learn to lose, and I think if you can learn to do that in a sporting environment it is something you have gained.
The other point that I feel very strongly about is that if you learn to love sport as I do and as you do as a youngster, it is a love you have for life, it doesn’t go away; your own special team perhaps is a great treasure to you, but beyond that you love the game. I think it adds an extra dimension to life.