Health & Fitness
The value of participation in sport and physical activity is significant, and its contribution to individual and community quality of life should not be underestimated. This is true for both younger and older people; participation in sport and physical activity delivers:
- Opportunities for physical activity, and therefore more ‘active living’
- Physical health benefits – reduces the risk of various diseases, including coronary heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, cancer, obesity, musculoskeletal conditions
- Mental health benefits – helps to improve mental health and the quality of life of those experiencing mental health problems and illnesses.
- Lack of physical activity is costing the UK an estimated £7.4 billion a year, including £0.9 billion to the NHS alone
It is also widely accepted that sampling multiple sports improves movement, fitness levels and long-term physical activity whereas specialising in one sport can cause burnout, injury and attrition (Di Stefano 2017). Sampling a sport that you would otherwise not be able to access can only have positive outcomes. New research also shows that playing team sports as a child can significantly reduce the likelihood of depression and anxiety later for people with childhood trauma. Researcher Molly Easterlin and her colleagues analyzed data from 5,000 teens who reported one or more adverse childhood experiences (ACEs). They were first assessed in 1994-95 while in the seventh to 12th grades and then reassessed or tested for symptoms in 2008. Kids who participated in team sports were significantly less likely to have depression or anxiety. Sports protected kids with ACEs against depression better than nonathletic school clubs, such as drama and orchestra.
A recent investigation (Project Oracle) concluded that Sport can act as a diversionary activity distracting from violent and criminal activities and also as a hook, bringing young people into contact with opportunities for achieving wider goals such as furthering their education or finding employment.
- It increases, socialisation, communication, inter-action and stimulation
- In addition, participation in sport and physical activity can facilitate the learning of new skills, development of individual and team ability / performance, and provide a ‘disciplined’ environment in which participants can ‘grow’ and develop.
- Leadership qualities increase markedly when participants work together as part of a team
Better school results
Rugby itself is a game that is built on teamwork. Everyone, regardless of size, weight or historical sporting ability has an equal part to play in the success of a rugby team. A study by the universities of Strathclyde and Dundee found children who carried out regular exercise, not only did better academically at 11 but also at 13 and in their exams at 16. Stead & Neville (2010) concluded that: “Physical education, physical activity and sport have been shown to impact positively on the extent to which young people feel connected to their school; the aspirations of young people; the extent to which positive social behaviours exist within school; and the development of leadership and citizenship skills.” Chaddock (2012) said: “More physically fit children have improved brain function, higher academic achievement scores and superior cognitive performance than less fit children.”
Being part of the community/family
Sessions will vary between both school and club. This will familiarise participants with the rugby club and encourage them to further develop by attending club training sessions outside of school. Membership or involvement within a sports club has long been attributed to being part of a family. Research from Hans Peter-Hutter in 2017 suggests belonging to a physical social network helps participants integrate into society, increases self-confidence and has a beneficial effect on mental health. The sense of family is also seen as vital to the ongoing participation of players within the club. The project will encourage participants to join Southwark Rugby Club so that they can continue to benefit from the sport and also the wider network of support that you receive from being part of a community. Many Black, African and Caribbean communities are based in Southwark so our offer has to be local and easily accessible. According to Shaheen Bi, Head of Research and Projects at Sporting Equals many people in this group lack confidence in engaging with sporting structures and service providers outside of school.
Competition, Volunteering and no barriers to participation
To sustain excitement and also a healthy level of competition between schools a league table is kept that includes both on and off the pitch activities. By encouraging non-playing students to take an interest in the success of the team (physio, referee, photographer, match reporter) the project is able to positively effect students who may not have associated sport with the benefits of volunteering. The aim is to enable students to start feeling a sense of being part of a team, a togetherness where they encourage each other to commit to training sessions and to encourage their schools to prioritise attending matches and their friends to volunteer or join-in.
Roughly 50% of the children attending the schools in our project are awarded pupil premium. Research has shown that pupil premium eligible students are far less likely than non-eligible peers to gain good GCSE results, with Ofsted (2014) reporting that in 2013 38% of students eligible for free school meals (FSM) achieved five GCSEs or more (A* to C) compared with 65% of non-FSM peers. Mentoring can be defined as ‘a supportive relationship between a youth…and someone who offers support, guidance and concrete assistance’ (Gay, 1994, p.4). Dunne et al. (2007) found that the use of mentoring to support students and to develop a positive atmosphere both in and outside the classroom was seen to be advantageous in motivating low-attaining students. Two pupils from each participating school will be selected (by their schools) to engage in mentoring sessions with our qualified coaches.