A successful boxer, a London Marathon runner and an impromptu personal trainer, many of the best moments for Trevor Jones have come in some form of sporting arena. Despite readily admitting that he had little or no input from his teachers at school, he believes that his life would have been ‘dull and unhealthy’ without the impact of regular physical activity. Here, he talks about the impact sport has had on his life – from taking part to coaching – and shares his ideas on how to get today’s young people more involved with sport within their respective communities.
I was born in the 1920s – and grew up in the 1930s and 40s – and back then there was far less impetus placed on sport in schools. Whatever physical exercise we had was outside of school hours. I was lucky, as I had miles of open ground and cliffs to climb in Bristol, while the local Boys Brigade had a football team in which I played with energy but little skill.
On the plus side, people walked or rode a bike everywhere, unless they were going on a very long journey. I will always remember riding my old second-hand bike sixty miles to Brean Sands and back, aged 12, and thinking nothing of it. Many people had not realised that this kind of activity was so important to their health – poor diet and a lack of money were more pressing concerns.
As I grew up, sport naturally began to play a more important role within my life. I had been a huge boxing fan growing up – thanks mainly to the influence of my father – and, for me, the opportunity to get involved myself helped me go from a fit young soldier to a super fit young soldier. It taught me self discipline, sportsmanship and the value and necessity of fitness.
I believe that the values boxing teaches you mean that it should still have a role within school sport today. The clubs that teach boxing outside of a school environment also need to be made more attractive to both sexes – as it’s only by doing this that we’re going to maintain our exceptional record as a country, both in the Olympics and among the professional ranks.
Running the London Marathon gave me something to aim for following retirement. The fact that my friend, a woman named Liz McColgan, was running marathons – it quickly showed me that I was still more than capable of doing the same.
Helping other people achieve similar goals was a natural progression for me. It gave me a feeling of self-worth. I was proud that I was able to get the best out of people and keep them going when they thought they could not manage another step – and I hope that coaches today will inspire their students to strive towards making their own achievements.
What’s important now, in a modern era that is full of video games, television and however many other distractions, is that sport is attractive to young people. Boys and girls need to be allowed to mix and interact with each other, where possible, as the opportunity to spend time in an enjoyable environment with people of the opposite sex will make it infinitely more appealing.
Furthermore, sport needs to inspire youngsters to get involved. The Olympics in London was excellent at doing this, but that time has now passed, and we must find new ways to encourage the next generation. Films of clubs and their activities might help with this, but each young person is going to be inspired by something different, and we must try to touch as many different lives as possible. It’s this level of success which is ultimately how we, as role models, will be judged.