a look back at the 2017 winter school games

by alice miller sport in education

This year was the first time I have managed the Winter School Games for the West of England and I am pleased to say it ran extremely smoothly! Over 1,000 young people took part in the 4 days of events, kicking off with the Girls Football, Inclusive Multi-Sport and Boys Handball at SGS College on Tuesday 24th January. We were privileged to have Paralympic footballer and Captain of the GB Cerebral Palsy Football team, Jack Rutter, attend the event to inspire the young people. We loved having him there, he was brilliant at engaging with the participants and even ran some drills for the girls in the Football event and offered them some tips. I was extremely impressed with the high standard in the handball tournaments. Being a relatively new sport in the area that is still very much in the development stage, it is brilliant to see it being so popular with schools.

The Inclusive Multi-Sport competition, which incorporated boccia, sitting volleyball and polybat, gave children with special educational needs and disabilities the opportunity to try some new sports. For many, this was their first experience of a sports competition and some discovered a new interest that will hopefully prompt them to continue participating in that activity. One of my highlights of the day was a young boy who told us:

"I didn’t used to like sport at all, but today has made me enjoy it for the first time in my life. I love boccia and want to carry on playing it!’"

This just sums up the incredible power that sport can have on the lives of young people with disabilities.

The second day of competition at UWE kicked off with all competitors (and even some teachers!) taking part in a mass warm-up, creating a great high-energy buzz to the start of the day. This year we introduced a Primary Dodgeball competition which was extremely popular amongst schools wanting to enter. We want to now work with schools to develop this competition at both Level 2 and Level 3 to create a structured competition pathway.  Alongside this event was the KS3/4 Trampolining and Table Tennis competitions, both of which were of exceptionally high standard, with some really talented athletes. We were treated to an impressive demonstration at the end of the table tennis event, by coaches and elite players from the SGS Table Tennis academy – great to see how the pros do it! We would love to see more schools entering the Trampolining event next year, and will be working with coaches from the UWE trampolining club to support schools to develop their in-school provision.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of our deliverers and volunteers who supported us over the 4 days, we are always grateful to them for the dedication and hard work they put into these events and we definitely could not do it without them! This year’s Young Leaders, provided by local schools and colleges, all displayed really high quality leadership skills and we would happily have them back to support future events.

Despite a rather hectic 2 weeks of planning and preparation leading up to the Winter Games I was relieved that our hard work paid off and the event was a great success! I was amazed at the high standard of some of the young athletes and I could see them going on to achieve great things in the sporting world. I particularly enjoyed watching the table tennis and handball, two sports that I never got the opportunity to play at school, and the evident enthusiasm and dedication displayed by the participants.

So another Winter School Games is over and now it’s on to planning for the Spring Games (27th April) and Summer Games (5th July). I would encourage any school to get engaged with the School Games, it is such a brilliant opportunity for children and young people to experience competitive sport. 

find out more about the school games

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alice miller

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