Royals would sparkle with Miss Markle
I’m hooked by the romance between Prince Harry and his girlfriend Meghan Markle, the American actress.
They appear so happy and natural together – they just make me smile. We must be careful not to get ahead of ourselves, but it HAS moved up a notch lately.
First, Harry flew Meghan’s mother Doria Ragland from LA to Toronto for the finale of his Invictus Games for injured servicemen and women.
Then there was that public kiss at the closing concert.
Is an engagement imminent? I really hope so.
Meghan seems a lovely girl. Harry really deserves to find happiness.
And it will be a huge step forward for Britain to have its first mixed-race royal.
My favourite subject at school was always sport. So much so that I wanted to be a PE teacher – and won a place to study it at the University of Brighton.
Unfortunately for me, my parents didn’t support my ambition to spend the rest of my life in Lycra.
Instead, I was packed off to follow a more academic route into the business world.
But I don’t blame them. For working class immigrants like my parents, PE was a luxury – and one which they didn’t think their daughter could afford.
Their sights were set on their children building careers to allow us to climb out of poverty.
The sad fact was that kids from poor families like mine were handicapped from the start, missing out on opportunities to do well at sport.
Gymnastics was my real talent. There were two of us at my school who excelled in it.
We started out at the same level, but the other girl attended all the after-school clubs, and her parents paid for extra coaching, because they could afford to.
Soon, she was taking part in competitions around the country while I was still doing handstands in the school hall.
I could have done what she did. But my parents not only didn’t have the money, they were never told about the after-school clubs.
None of my teachers ever took the time to encourage them to recognise my skill in gymnastics or to explain to them what I might achieve with a career in sport.
We’re now 30 years on and very little has changed. Kids who are part of the “have not” group are still missing out, thanks to Tory cuts to the School Sport Partnerships programme.
When Michael Gove was Education Secretary he pulled the plug on its funding – and 450 groups delivering a whole host of specialist sport programmes and facilities lost out.
Gove’s reason was that he felt it was not “the best way to help schools achieve their potential in improving competitive sport”.
How wrong could he be? The effects of his all too short-sighted decision are still being felt years down the line.
Take the example of Tower Hamlets, one of the most deprived inner city areas in London.
More than 25,000 children in the borough are defined as coming from poor backgrounds in an area where there are very few green spaces for them to play in and virtually no sports clubs. As I write, the Tower Hamlets Youth Sports Foundation – which works to turn these young lives around – is fighting hard to keep its own funding.
Since it was set up in 2004, the foundation has achieved some outstanding results.
It has produced county cricketers, despite having no local pitch, has set up a local residents’ hockey team and introduced the first judo club to the area.
Its sport leadership programme has trained hundreds of youngsters to assist as PE teachers in local schools and to lead afterschool clubs.
You have to ask, whatever happened to the legacy of the 2012 London Olympics and all the big promises politicians made about building a nation of Olympians?
How can they talk about creating a legacy and then cut the essential funding needed to develop our sport stars of the future?
It’s easy to say get on and do it yourself – but how can a child do that if there is no hope, opportunity or mentoring to show them what “getting on” actually looks and feels like?
We cannot always allow a lack of money to shatter the dreams of the young.
Because the investment we make now will be paid back many times over. And we’ll see it in healthier, happier, betterbehaved kids with the self-esteem and self-discipline to make Britain better for us all.
HE’S BACK Lord Sugar