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Save our sports: Bermondsey kids take anti-cuts message to town hall

Three pupils from Boutcher Primary School in Grange Road made speeches to Southwark's cabinet on Tuesday night to urge councillors not to axe the Southwark Community Games.

The Southwark Community Games is a year-round programme of sports coaching for young people. The scheme was launched by Rio Ferdinand in 2004 at a star-studded ceremony held at Elephant & Castle.

Now the loss of Government funding for sport and the council's own budget cuts mean that the Southwark Community Games will not continue in their present form.

Year six pupils Bradley, Destiny and Arun from Boutcher Primary School were accompanied to Southwark Town Hall by headteacher Eilidh Verhoeven to make the case for the games to continue.

Each child made a short speech to the nine Labour councillors who make up the borough's ruling cabinet.

"We are the future," said Bradley. "We should be given every opportunity and every chance to participate in every aspect of sport.

"We have been very lucky so far but we were all very disappointed to be informed that we no longer have Southwark Community Games due to a lack of funding from Southwark Council.

He urged the councillors to find money to continue the community games scheme. "We really need this chance, especially with the 2012 Olympics looming upon us," he said.

Destiny told the cabinet that Southwark Community Games help children to learn new sporting skills, develop new talents and stay fit and healthy."

"On behalf of year six at Boutcher School, I want to say that we believe that Southwark Council should continue to fund Southwark Community Games," said Arun.

The trio of children received several rounds of applause from cabinet members and the audience in the public gallery.

Council leader Peter John asked Ms Verhoeven whether her school would be prepared to take on some of the cost of the community games to allow the scheme to continue.

The headteacher said that in principle she would be happy to make a contribution but with her own budget also being cut it was difficult to find the cash.

Southwark's cabinet will meet again next Tuesday to agree the council's budget proposals.

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