AS the dust settles on this year’s highly acclaimed ‘summer of sport’, primary school pupils in the East Neuk are now setting sights on medals of their own in a Commonwealth Games-inspired programme.
When Waid Academy’s Active Schools co-ordinator Peter Davidson began pulling together his ideas for a ‘CommonWaid Games’ initiative, he could little have predicted that by the time of the launch, interest in sports would be at an all-time high.
He now plans to capitalise and build on that enthusiasm with the CommonWaid Games, which is designed to maximise participation in a wide range of sports by all the P4-7 pupils in Waid’s feeder primary schools in the build-up to the Commonwealth Games 2014 in Glasgow – and beyond.
While the project is focused on encouraging taking part in various sport, activities out of the classroom will go hand-in-hand with wider curriculum development by awarding points for cultural-based work also undertaken by the primary schools.
“The response from the schools has been fantastic,” said Peter.
The CommonWaid Games will also be involving the wider community by bringing in support from volunteers to help with activities and local sports clubs.
Working with Duncan Caithness, sports development officer in east Fife, Peter has recruited nine local clubs to the initiative, covering tennis, golf, orienteering, athletics, bowls and rugby, to coach, hold events and, in many cases, introduce youngsters to their respective sports for the first time.
“There’s an abundance of pro-active and forward-thinking sports clubs in the East Neuk, and the nine clubs’ involvement in the CommonWaid Games is testament to that,” said Duncan.
“All nine clubs are working towards ClubFife, Fife Council’s club accreditation scheme which helps clubs to operate in a structured, safe and child-friendly manner.”
At the heart of the CommonWaid Games will be a medal table.
Each primary school will represent a country eligible to compete in the Commonwealth Games and over the the coming year, pupils will be invited to take part in range of events to win points, based on their sporting success and on their participation, for their ‘country’.
“With cultural projects, the work will take place within class and will be led by teaching staff,” Peter explained.
In these cases, the work will be assessed by a ‘culture board’ which will then award appropriate points.
However, schools will be encouraged to upload and share their work on an online portal.
This will also be where all the participating schools will be able to go throughout the year to see ‘live’ updates of all the points totals on sports and culture medal tables.
“The whole aim of the games is to reward effort and participation, inspire schools to develop sports clubs and pupils to maintain attendance, and to encourage and support local club involvement,” Peter said.
“We want this to be something that is inspired by the Commonwealth Games 2014 but will have a legacy long afterwards.”
Iain Hughes, head teacher at Waid Academy, said it would deliver on many levels.
As well as the health benefits to children of introducing them to new sports and encouraging participation, the games’ emphasis on learning about the cultures of the countries tapped into the school’s emphasis on joining up various aspects of the curriculum.
“The CommonWaid name itself also underlines the benefit the project will have from bringing the primary schools together, which can only help when the pupils later come together at Waid,” Mr Hughes said.
All-round winner at schools
THE new East Neuk sports initiative has been declared a winner by head teachers.
“The pupils responded so well to the Olympics and now we have something that allows us to build on that enthusiasm as we look forward to the Commonwealth Games,” said Lucy Jess, headteacher at Crail Primary School.
“Combining the sports activities with the cultural aspect will work well for us too. We have chosen to represent Kenya as, through the school’s links with the charity Vision Africa, we have already had a visit from someone from the country.”
Kirkton of Largo Primary School headteacher Catherine Cunningham agreed the timing of the new project was perfect to capitalise on the pupils’ interest in all things sport following this summer’s Olympics and Paralympics.
“It’s also good that it is over a lengthy period of time rather than a one-off festival, as it allows us to plan activities and tie it in with learning about the Commonwealth countries in the curriculum,” she said. “We’re delighted to be representing Malawi, as we have pupils in the school from the country.”
Waid head Iain Hughes is another supporter who views the initiative’s longer-term benefits.
Volunteers are key to success
AN important factor in helping the hundreds of local youngsters go for gold will be a network of volunteers.
Acitve Schools co-ordinator Peter Davidson is in the process of recruiting teachers, parents and others willing to give time to provide pupils with the opportunities to participate in the CommonWaid Games activities.
There are a number of ways people can volunteer:
* After-school club coach – lead a short block of activity in a particular sport before or after one of the games’ competitive events.
* Competition coach/supervisor – accompany a team or pupils to an event.
* Driver – support a school by helping provide transport or driving to an event.
Full training is being offered to all volunteers, both in sports specific skills, for example, in football or tennis, and in general areas, such as first aid, child protection and positive coaching.
If you would like to get involved, or want to find out more, contact Peter by email on email@example.com or call 08451 55 55 55, ext 461504.