Wednesday, April 17, 2013

School Games, announcements and high quality throughout

At least I started the day in the warm. Relatively. The warmth of the sports hall at Suffolk One provided the venue for the first competitions included in the Suffolk Sainsbury’s School Games Spring Festival.
Photo: Kathryn James welcomes the teams to the U12's Basketball finals
Kathryn James welcoming the teams to the Basketball finals at Suffolk One

The Sainsbury’s School Games is the main government policy for increasing opportunities to take part in competitive school sport, using the inspiration of London 2012. It starts at every school, by holding house tournaments and class competitions, giving the chance for every child to access competitive sport. Each school will then be given the opportunity to compete against other local schools in fixtures, leagues and tournaments, with the winning school facing the winners of the other local competitions from across the county to determine the Suffolk champions.

The Spring Festival was the culmination of 8 competitions in 3 sports. First up at Suffolk One was the Suffolk U12 Girls Basketball Cup, along with the boys equivalent. On Thursday 21st March, this was physically the warmest I was going to be all day. Especially as the organisers from Suffolk Schools Basketball Association had their priorities right with an overflowing table of hot and cold drinks and other goodies!
Westley Middle School proved strong in both the girls and boys competitions, taking home both trophies and starting what would prove to be a successful day for schools from Bury St Edmunds.

I moved on to the U11 Quicksticks (hockey) tournament, which I had the pleasure of running. 9 schools qualified from every corner of Suffolk, meaning a school from Lowestoft played against a school from Newmarket. Those schools are 1hr 40mins apart according to Google Maps! Where else would primary schools from that far apart get to compete against one another?! Eventually it boiled down to a St Louis Middle from Bury St Edmunds against Meadow Primary from Lowestoft in a close final. Continuing the Bury dominance of the day so far, St Louis Middle School prevailed 3-1 in a final which could have gone either way.

Whilst I travelled up to Harleston Magpies Hockey Club for the Boys and Girls Yrs 7&8 In2Hockey competitions, the U11 Mixed Basketball was in full swing at Westbourne and the U15 and U16 Boys Rugby Cup was getting underway at Ipswich Rugby Club.

Westley Middle School reiterated their basketball prowess by taking the honours in the U11 Mixed Basketball, suggesting they’ll provide a strong challenge in the U12 competitions again next year.

The U15 Rugby Cup was proudly taken back to Bury St Edmunds by King Edward VI School, whilst the U16 Rugby Cup found a home back at Thurston Community College.

The final competitions to be concluded on the day were the In2Hockey honours. It was so cold at Harleston Magpies Hockey Club that at one point the comment was made by a parent that it nearly became Ice Hockey! Luckily the enthusiasm of the players and quality of some of the play warmed those in attendance. Long trips proved fruitful ones, with Stoke-by-Nayland Middle School delighted to win the girls competition from the closest of margins from Beyton Middle School, and the boys at Mildenhall College having to find a home for their latest trophy.

A huge thank you must go to all the players, teachers, SGOs, volunteers, organisers, NGB staff, spectators and coaches who made each competition so diverse in participation and high in quality.

So now we look forward to the Summer Festival on Friday 5th July in Bury St Edmunds. Plans are underway for an even bigger and better event this year than last, with more sports, more participants, more leaders and more exciting competition. We’ve introduced Rounders, Netball and Judo to the Festival experience this year. It promises to be the biggest single youth sport event Suffolk will hold in 2013, and we can’t wait to see what performances are in store, starting with what promises to be a spectacular opening ceremony.

Just a final word on the recent announcement of the ring-fenced Sport Premium for primary-aged children, which will start from September 2013. £150m for each of the next two years amounts to a huge investment by this government in an area which will really benefit from the increased focus. I’ve tweeted a lot on this subject (@SFKSchoolGames) because, although head teachers rightly have the flexibility to spend the funding on the areas of need for their school, head teachers must be given a clear understanding of the options they have to ensure the highest quality of PE and school sport provision. Suffolk County Council, the Youth Sport Trust, afPE, the Suffolk SGO Network, head teachers, Suffolk Sport, and other partners look forward to working together to maximise the impact of this funding. Let’s be clear it’s two years of funding which needs to last for the next 20, the challenge is set!




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