Giving youngsters a sporting chance

600 north east Fife primary school pupils have had a taste for the forthcoming Rio Olympic and Paralympic games through a series of sporting challenges at the University of St Andrews.

Saturday, 16th July 2016, 10:51 am
Updated Thursday, 25th August 2016, 9:01 pm
St Andrews University gave 600 youngsters from NE Fife primary schools a taster of Olmpic and Paralympic events. Leading para-athlete Derek Rae (left) was on hand to offer encouragement

The young athletes were hosted by the university in partnership with the nationwide initiative Active Schools: Road to Rio, which encourages young people to get active by trying their hands at a rang of Olympic sports.

University sports coaches and sporty local volunteers guided the P4–P7 pupils from 12 schools, through games, challenges and activity sessions, from doing the shot put with tennis balls and using bean bags for target practice to learning the technique to the long jump and mini hurdling.

The young athletes also tried out other athletics, netball, tennis, rugby and football, which will all be Olympic sports in Rio.

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Kirkcaldy-based para-athlete, Derek Rae, also volunteered his time and shared his sporting expertise with the children.

He represented Great Britain in the marathon for the 2015 IPC World Championships and hopes to be selected for the Rio 2016 Paralympic team.

Derek said “I’m happy to do what I can to get kids active. It’s great to see kids smiling, enjoying it, and tiring themselves out.”

Those taking part were supported and encouraged by senior pupils from Madras College who volunteered to help at the sports day to develop their leadership skills.

Fergus Knight, marketing and business development manager for sport and exercise at St Andrews University, said “It has been fantastic to see so many young pupils take part in our Road to Rio sports day. Their enthusiasm and energy knows no bounds.

“The University’s community engagement programme is hugely important, both for getting our young local population active and into sport at a young age, and also for the personal development of our University students, who gain coaching experience that is different from the roles they might undertake within their own teams and clubs.

“This past year we have undertaken 35 different projects and our students have volunteered more than 1500 hours of their time to help young people into sport.”

And Mr Knight promised: “We’re hoping to grow this even further next year.”

The university is hosting more events for youngsters interested in trying out new sports or getting involved in activities that they already enjoy, through the Junior Saints sports programme. Sessions run throughout the year in St Andrews, with summer holiday sports camps running weekly from 4 July until 12 August for 3-11-year-olds.