The World Cup has been a fantastic sporting event with England’s journey capturing the nation’s imagination, as we all dared to dream. It has shown the power of sport and Gareth Southgate’s men have created a special buzz around England football once again. The togetherness shown by hordes of die-hard and casual fans in pubs, parks and squares across the country evidenced the unique ability of sport to unite people of different cultures, creed, colour and religion - this spirit embodies true British values.
Particular highlights for me include watching England’s trashing of Panama in the Wheatsheaf pub in Tooting, winning our first ever World Cup penalty shoot-out, and the ecstasy followed by agony in the semi-final vs Croatia. Special mention also to the King's Head pub - the atmosphere in there was electric; at times it felt like we were in the stadium!
This World Cup has been about the values we all share and shown how our flag should be associated with the sporting success of inspirational men and women who represent our country. The current England starting XI included 6 players who are children of immigrants; this should be seen as a celebration of our diversity and a representation of modern England.
As Shadow Minister for Sport, I believe football (and sport in general) has incredible power to tackle a number of issues facing communities in Britain and should be accessible to all. This renewed sense of confidence in the national football team and associated 'feel-good factor' should be used to increase participation rates across sport, and re-ignite belief in sport's value as a crucial social good.