Now I’ll be the first one to admit that sport isn’t really my forte. My own sporting successes began and ended with the one time I scored a goal from a spectacular goal kick in year 5 girls’ football. Even when people ask the million dollar question of “Stoke City or The Vale?” I’ll probably mumble something about “erm…well.. Stoke City probably er…” but my heart isn’t really in it. Nevertheless, even I (quite possibly the least sporty person in the world) can see that this award is great news for Stoke-on-Trent.
The title itself has been awarded by ACES Europe, a non-profit organisation based in Brussels. Their website explains that they have a very strict criteria when awarding this title which includes cities that are clearly adhering to or working towards principles that acknowledge sport’s ability to improve the quality of life & pyscho-physical well being of its inhabitants and how it can be conducive to the complete integration of social classes within society. While this title is awarded to multiple European cities each year, it’s still an incredible achievement as a British city hasn’t won since 2013 due to a lack of cities of suitable standard, according to ACES Europe. What’s more, it equates Stoke-on-Trent with other incredible cities in Europe such as Santander, Spain and Florence, Italy which wouldn’t have occurred without this platform.
Stoke city council believe that this title could work all sorts of wonders for the city, including a steep rise in overall visitors and tourists coming to the area as they begin to plan a launch event for later on this year and other possible major activities that could be held in the city. Considering various attractions already in the area have also just completed improvements to their facilities, such as the World of Wedgwood complex, this award couldn’t have been better timed as it’s likely that all of these developments together will contribute a great deal to the growth of our tourism industry. Furthermore, the greater emphasis that the council have pledged to put on city participation in sport and healthy living may go some way in reducing the concerning obesity problem that Stoke is currently struggling with. According to the council’s statistics, 28% of the city’s adult population are obese- more than one quarter!- and it seems pretty obvious that in order for our city to grow stronger and prosper we need a healthy population to drive it.
For me, it seems that our city so often misses out on activities of national importance and excitement. The fact we found out earlier today that we were unsuccessful in our bid to host the WW1 ceramic poppy display (despite supplying the clay and contributing to their production) sadly illustrates this point all too well. However, perhaps receiving this prestigious accolade will help raise the profile of Stoke-on-Trent and encourage a greater recognition of the city on a national scale.
ACES Europe website: http://www.aceseurope.eu/index.php/en/
Stoke-on-Trent City Council’s press release: http://www.stoke.gov.uk/ccm/content/council-and-democracy/communications/2015-press-releases/07-july-2015-folder/138-2015.en;jsessionid=ayf94Bn15acf