“Wrong target, using the wrong methods” is the message in the first of this fortnight’s SPOT Newsletter podcasts.  From a lifetimes’ involvement in sport policies largely at the universities of Loughborough and Gloucestershire, Michael Collins discusses the sports policies of New Labour and the current coalition for the Sports and Leisure History Seminar.  Based upon a revised version of the final chapter to his 2009 book, Examining Sports Development, which will soon also appear in article form in the Journal of Sports Policy, Collins describes the 2008-11 strategy for Sport England as a backward step made worse by coalition budget cuts.  Collins believes that the ambitious targets designed to attract more British citizens to sport does not fit the available budget or the actual activities of government.  Whilst the 2012 Olympics has the capacity to have a positive effect on the nations health, Collins suggests that once over it is unlikely to have the desired long term benefit due to overambitious and poorly funded policies.    

The second podcast this week takes an entirely different theme and focus.  The Military History Seminar presents a paper by Declan O’Reilly on the topic of French resistance during the German Occupation.  Focusing on Pearl Witherington’s unit of Marquis Resistance fighters, O’Reilly tackles the ambiguity of resistance; in particular the units’ relationship with the British war effort and its role in helping to raise Charles de Gaulle to power.  Pearl Witherington was born and raised in France but was a British citizen.  When the Germans occupied France she escaped to London and then trained with the Special Operations Executive (SOE).  Wirtherington returned to France in September 1943 under the leadership of Maurice Southgate, leader of the Stationers Network.  After Southgate’s capture, Wirtherington took control of the network, which was to play an important role delaying German troops during the D-Day landings.  O’Reilly traces the ebbs and flows of ‘Pearl’s War’ and attempts to place its significance into context.  The post-paper discussion refocuses the discussion on the nature of the evidence and in particular how the written record often conflicts with veterans memories of events.      

Sports and leisure History Seminar
8 November 2010
Professor Michael Collins (University of Gloucestershire)
From ‘Sport for Good’ to ‘Sport for Sport’s Sake’: Reversing into the Past
[Warning: contains some explicit language]
Military History Seminar
9 November 2010
Declan O’Reilly (UEA)
SOE, the French Resistance and the Battle for the Indre, June-September 1944