YOUTH Sport Trust recently released their 2017 Impact Report and whilst for the purposes of this report their research focussed specifically on England, I have no reason to believe that in Scotland our stats would be any better. Perhaps, given our track record, they might even be worse!

To kick-it off, here are some shocking statistics included in the report, starting off with only 22 per cent of children aged five to 15 currently meet the Chief Medical Officer’s recommended of 60 minutes physical activity every day and that drops down to 8 per cent of girls aged between 11 and 18 who meet the recommendation of 60 active minutes per day.

One in five children (20 per cent) are obese by the final year of primary school and perhaps most shocking of all, there is a 70 per cent increase in depression rates and anxiety among teenagers, with around one in 10 children now having a diagnosable mental health disorder; this statistic has been linked with the increased use of social media!

Youth Sport Trust have a great mission statement which includes the line: “We want to ensure that every child, regardless of age, gender, background or ability, has the opportunity to enjoy the benefits of an active lifestyle and has access to high quality PE and school sport. We passionately believe this is crucial to tackling some of the biggest challenges facing today’s generation of children and young people.”

So whilst that is no doubt true, it is society as a whole who need a quick reality check and a look in the mirror at our own lifestyle choices.

We now know that depression and obesity can be linked with inactivity, and these figures, I believe, and I am not alone here, basically tell us that we have a major problem on our hands. If we were dealing with a life-threatening virus running through the country, or a major disaster that threatened the future of our society, there would be no doubt that experts would be sought to look at ways to resolve the problem and funding would be found to alleviate the issue. We must invest in our young people’s health and their future and as this problem is the responsibility of all members of society, adults, parents and careers, we need to recognise this and take steps, no pun intended, to change our habits and make our own lifestyles more active.

Currently setting a great example to our young girls is Scotland’s only professional netball team UWS Sirens. I spent Monday night in the company of a good few hundred really excited fans, who had come to see their idols play their first home game in the Netball Super League. Banners, posters, foam fingers, they had the lot and what an atmosphere they created. The fans were rewarded with the first win in the current campaign for The UWS Sirens and the players lined up, at the end of the match outside the court, to meet and greet their adoring fans and sign autographs. That is how you create a role model and that is how you should treat your fans.

I am sure if Isabel Newstead and Helen Matthews were with us today, they would also be amazing role models. Both of these amazing ladies make up our four Past Pioneers in Sport who will be inducted into our inaugural Hall of Fame this Sunday.

Helen Graham Matthews was born in 1857 and began playing football in 1883. She was born at sea with the most likely vessel being the Loch Awe which left the Clyde Port during April 1871 bound for the East Indies. A Scottish suffragette and women’s footballer she was the founding member of Mrs Graham’s X1.

Newstead was born in Glasgow in 1955 and raised in Renfrewshire. She swam competitively as a teenager however this sporting passion was interrupted when she fell ill and subsequently lost the use of her limbs.

Isabel took part in seven Paralympic games, winning nine gold medals, plus three silvers and four bronzes in a range of sports including swimming, discus, shot and javelin. She won World gold and silver medals for air-pistol shooting.

It has been fascinating finding out about the achievements of those nominated for the SW/S Hall of Fame, so many stories that need to be told. Tickets still available for the Afternoon Lunch where our four current leaders, who have yet to be named and are also going to be inducted, will join us on the day.