Monday 04 February 2013
Eighty children from the four clubs in the North-East converged on Eston Leisure Complex in Middlesbrough for the annual Premier League 4 Sport Regional event, where they could learn about other sports and be encouraged to follow a more active lifestyle.
The children, aged between 11 and 15, were firstly given a talk by Volleyball England's Jennifer Taylor who played for Britain in the London Olympics last year. Taylor offered the audience a glimpse of the commitment required to reach the top of any sport, with photographs showing the power of the Olympics and its impact on sports people.
"The main thing the kids got out of was that they learnt other sports"
She then led a mass warm-up before the clubs split their kids into teams of five to try their hands at all six sports on offer - badminton, volleyball, judo, hockey, netball and table tennis - rather than just the one in which they specialise.
Trophies were awarded for individual sports as well as an overall winner. Newcastle were crowned North East Regional PL4S Champions while Sunderland's team won the Fair Play award.
"The main thing the kids got out of was that they learnt other sports," said Alan Cowthorne, the PL4S project coordinator for Middlesbrough. "We sent seven boys from a judo club and 13 girls from netball, but they had their eyes opened trying out other sports.
"As a coach you cannot be afraid to let kids try other sports. At the end of the day it is all about getting them involved in sport per se and broaden their horizons."
Lotta Lundvall, the mother of Alex and Hannah, who represented Newcastle, was grateful for the experience her children enjoyed. "The children have met lots of new friends, the dedication and effort of children from all the clubs was excellent," she said. "As a parent I like the idea of the children trying different activities and more importantly it help get them away from the X-Box."
Ella Stevenson, of St Thomas More School was a member of Newcastle's winning badminton team. "Today was really fun and I enjoyed trying different sports," she said. "It was also brilliant competing against people from other football clubs."
"It was also brilliant competing against people from other football clubs"
"The day was a fantastic success, thoroughly enjoyed by all the young people involved," said Kevin Darke, Sunderland's PL4S sport co-ordinator. "At the end, the only question on everyone's lips - parents, teachers, coaches and young people - was when the next event was and could they come along."
Lisa Bell, Newcastle's PL4S co-ordinator, shared her Sunderland counterpart's sentiment. "It is very important that kids get the chance to put into practice what they learn every week at their individual satellite clubs and the opportunity to represent Newcastle United made it more special," she said.
Premier League 4 Sport is a pioneering sports participation programme launched in 2009 with Sport England and the Youth Sport Trust that is giving young people access to eight sports - badminton, basketball, handball, hockey, judo, netball, table tennis and volleyball - and providing lasting legacy from the London 2012 Olympic Games. Almost £6m has been handed out to help more than 60,000 kids aged 11-19 access the eight sports and last year PL4S got 12,442 young people engaged in sport for the first time, exceeding targets set by 27%.
PL4S's three main objectives:
a) Provide chances for young people to take part in sport outside school hours;
b) Increase the diversity of sport;
c) Improve the infrastructure and supporting links between schools and clubs.
During the first two years of the project, PL4S surpassed its target of 25,000 participants, there being almost 40,000. One third of these were female and 14% were black or from an ethnic minority. More than 850 sports leaders and sports coaching qualifications have been gained.