JUDY Murray has blamed a lack of P.E in schools for creating a generation of “overweight and uncoordinated” youngsters.
The mother of Scots tennis ace Andy Murray said she was shocked by the number of obese pupils she encountered during a recent tour of high schools across the country.
The tennis coach said more physical education in schools could help cut obesity among children and produce better athletes.
Murray was touring schools to promote her Set4Sport programme, which aims to improve coordination and grassroots participation in sport.
The 52-year-old previously said Scotland’s young sports hopefuls were drowning “in a diet of chip fat served up with an unhealthy dollop of youth and parental indifference to exercise”.
Speaking this week, she said: “I was doing a fair number of school visits where I was trying to introduce kids to tennis, and I was aware of a significant number who would be overweight and uncoordinated, couldn’t throw and catch balls, couldn’t co-ordinate their arms and legs at the same time.
“Not all of them, but it seemed a lot more than I had perhaps thought or been aware of when I was growing up.”
Murray said PE lessons need to be longer that the accepted 40-minute lesson, which often involve only 20 minutes of activity after the time spent in the changing rooms is factored in.
She continued: “About 20 minutes three times a week is not an awful lot.”
She suggested schools be more imaginative in their approach to exercise, offering alternatives to sport such as zumba and aerobics classes.
Murray also lamented a lack of freedom for youngsters who wish to play outside.
She said: “You can’t play football in the streets any more, and a lot of the parks say ‘no ball games’. There are a lot more restrictions on what kids can and can’t do.”
Murray created Set4Sport after being inspired by her experience as a tennis coach.
The scheme showcases easy ways for parents to play with children and develop the skills needed for sport. It centres around activities, ball skills and exercises based on the games Judy played with Andy and his brother, Jamie.
In April, Ms Murray, the former head coach of Tennis Scotland, called on politicians of all parties to act now to ease pressure on the Scottish government’s health budget caused by childhood obesity.
Scottish ministers have pledged that every pupil in Scotland will benefit from at least two hours a week of physical education in primary school and two periods, equivalent to one hour and 40 minutes, in S1 to S4 by 2014.
More than £5m will be made available to local authorities to help them hit the target. Since 2006, the proportion of primary schools reaching it has doubled to 64%.