AN MP has slammed school sports days for publicly humiliating children who finish last.

Romsey MP Sandra Gidley described the traditional annual competition as her "pet hate" and accused schools of failing to consider the feelings of children with little sporting ability.

The Liberal Democrat MP also criticised team sports like hockey and football and claimed many adults had been put off exercise for life because they were still haunted by their experiences at school.

Speaking in a House of Commons debate on public health, Mrs Gidley said: "Those children who are towards the end of the queue when the teams are being picked soon get the message and decide that they do not want to exercise because they do not want to make fools of themselves.

"That is not a positive experience. If a child cannot read, they are not put on a stage and made to stumble through the alphabet or a passage of Shakespeare, yet little thought is given to the children who do not excel at sport."

The MP called for a greater focus on activities which focused on "personal improvement" like skipping, dance and games.

She said: "I would ask that we try to get away from competitive sport in schools and think about increasing exercise and activity.

"Personal improvement initiatives are much more positive and inspiring for children than those in which their performance is compared with that of others."

Mrs Gidley stressed the importance of exercise in tackling the "growing problem" of childhood obesity and welcomed moves to restrict advertising of junk food.

She said: "The figures are stark. The British Medical Association estimates that there already one million obese children under 16. If the trends continue, one fifth of boys and one third of girls will be obese by 2020."

However, Paul Creeden, Hampshire Football Association's spokesman said boys and girls of all ages, abilities and ethnic backgrounds benefited from taking part in team sports.

The Hampshire FA currently works with many schools across the region promoting the "beautiful game" at every level.

He said. "Team sports are both good for personal development, learning to have respect for others and encouraging teamwork.

"It's also good for learning to be successful, accepting defeat and working together towards one goal."

Health Minister Ivan Lewis described Mrs Gidley's attack on competitive sport as "strange". He said: "In my experience, thousands of young people around the country play football and hockey and do so happily."

Read today's comment by Daily Echo Sports Editor Simon Carter by clicking here