Following news that Scottish businesses have won 133 of the 171 contracts through the Glasgow Business Portal, Shona Robison, Minister for Commonwealth Games and Sport said, in a statement to parliament, that Glasgow 2014 is providing economic hope in a challenging climate.
Shona announced that many of the venues are already in place, and that work is continuing on the others, on schedule. She talked about the legacy for Glasgow, including improved public transport and reduced congestion. Local companies and business throughout Scotland are benefiting from the contracts, and work has been provided, especially for young people.
The opening and closing ceremonies will provide opportunities for Scotland's abundant creative talent.
There is a genuine intention to ensure that Scots benefit from the games in the provision of sporting facilities all over the country. It was a condition of the games award to Glasgow, and it is being fulfilled. Even now, nearly 3 years before the events, 41 Community Sports Hubs have been created and more are on their way. Shona wants to see 150 of these hubs by 2016, at least half of them in schools and using school facilities.
It may seem hypocritical for me to lambaste the Olympic Games in London, which we are helping to pay for, and then to support the Commonwealth Games which we are paying for in total. But it is more the mismanagement of the Olympics rather than the games and the money that is being thrown around like confetti that angers me. I hope too that the sponsors who have demanded so much in London realise that they have done themselves no good at all. Greedy McDonalds, Mastercard Coka Cola, etc. London is all business, and very little sport.
However, in Shona Robison we have a sports minister who passionately believes in sport. And she sees that the way to make this event a success for ALL of Scotland, and not just Glasgow, is to make sure it touches all of us.
These community sporting facilities will do that. It is, however, important that people are aware of where they are, and how to access them.
I'm not just backing this because it is the SNP government which is running it. This must be a non-political event. Remember that it was Jack McConnell's Labour Executive that did all the ground work, and Jack, I suppose, who expected to be the first minister to oversee the games. And of course Glasgow Council (Labour controlled) is hugely involved in the organisation.
I'm sure too that Shona will get support and encouragement from the sports shadows of the main parties, Patricia Ferguson and Alex Johnstone. Ministers and shadows for young people's employment need to work together too over this.
Working with young people has taught me how important this is. This is our opportunity. We must grab it with both hands. The difference to young people that, for example, Spook's* football academy makes, is outstanding. Lads want to be successful. They just need the opportunity. Sport can give them that.
Scotland will ensure that opportunity for, and encouragement to participate in, sport, and therefore enjoy a healthier and better life will be provided.
In doing that we'll not only be fulfilling our commitment to the Commonwealth Games Organisers, we will help our kids to find better ways of passing their lives than with booze, drugs and computer games.
(You remember Spook don't you? Accountant, ex-blogger, footballer and friend to many of us.)