There are many all party parliamentary groups, which highlight issues which cross the party divide. One of those groups is the all party football group and along with Walton MP, Steve Rotheram, I play in the matches organised by the group. Last week we played the ex-pros and this week it was staff from the United Nations.
It was a privilege to be on the same pitch as the ex-pros, players like Brian Deane, Curtis Fleming and Leroy Rosenior, although to be honest we hardly touched the ball.
It was fortunate that we only played 40 minutes as they were already 5-nil up.
The United Nations game was much closer and although we lost again, (4-1) at least we had a bit of a go. The fact that I scored, may have added to my enjoyment although playing in driving snow made the game more interesting.
The matches have a serious purpose though. The ex-pros are all former players who promote the Football Association’s 'Show racism the red card' programme. They visit schools up and down the country and have the backing of the clubs, including Liverpool and Everton. They do a great job in helping children and young people to understand the damage that racist comments do and the importance of respecting and befriending people who look or sound different.
The United Nations match was part of the World Aids Day commemoration. The United Nations team is lobbying governments to support their efforts to help people across the world with HIV/Aids and to provide education on how to avoid the spread of aids.
I was also privileged to give out the certificates and prizes at Chesterfield High School in Crosby.
The school has had its best ever GCSE results and is now in the top 10 in the country on a broader, value added school. Congratulations to all the prize and certificate winners and to the staff and parents for all their support for the young people.
Chesterfield High School is a Specialist Sports College and has had its sports partnership funding cut. This is a bitter blow for the school and for the students. It is also a blow for all the primary school children who benefit from the work done with them by the older children.
I am very committed to sport in schools, partly as I know how much children and young people enjoy the thrill of achieving in sport. But partly too as most young people now have two hours or more of sport in school every week. Taking part in sport is a vitally important way of improving the health of people of all ages, whether that’s competitive team sports or non competitive exercise.
Different children benefit from different types of sport and exercise. At separate parliamentary questions, I pressed the Secretary of State for Education and the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport to reconsider the cut and to make sure that school sport has the support it needs so that children can take part and live the healthiest lives possible.
I attended the dedication of the new Royal British Legion standard at St Faith’s church in Crosby. The Legion do sterling work supporting ex-service personnel and they deserve our support and appreciation. The old standard will now be looked after at St Faith’s and the Crosby branch will proudly display its new standard.
Finally, it was a pleasure to go to the United Reform Church in Maghull on Sunday for the Maghull Civic Service. The sermon was very thought-provoking and was a reminder of the challenges ahead for all of us who are elected to serve the communities in Sefton. We will need to work together to deal with the level of cuts.
Good luck to Geoff Howe for the rest of his year as mayor of Maghull and good luck to all of the parish, town and borough councillors in Sefton Central.