The Telegraph reports that the Oxbridge Boat Race has launched a project to get every state school on the famed four mile championship course onto the water in a bid to break private school dominance of the sport.
As the university crews for this year’s race were announced, the event’s director said they hoped to offer a lasting legacy by giving pupils from 52 schools the opportunity to try rowing and experience the many benefits it has to offer.
Of the 115 schools registered to compete in rowing in the UK, 90 per cent are from the independent sector.
The majority of the UK-educated students who will take part in this year’s prestigious Boat Race attended private schools, with alumni from Eton, Bedales, Abingdon School and St Paul’s among those named in the men’s and women’s crews.
Those behind the Future Blues state school project hope not only to give pupils a taste of the sport but to open a rowing club at each and every schools in four London boroughs bordering the course.
The project was largely inspired by Steve O’Connor, chief executive of the Fulham Reach Boat Club, who has already introduced the sport to the 12 secondary schools in Hammersmith and Fulham, making it the first borough in the UK to offer rowing at every school.
Michelle Dite said that far from being a “flash in the pan”, they intended it to have a long-lasting impact and would work closely with British Rowing, plotting results and keeping track of who is coming through the system.
Already, one pupil has broken two British Under-12 records on the rowing machine and another went to the national championships in her second season.
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