13/06/2019

Going back to my roots... Why school sport matters

A lovely day last Saturday took me back to mine, and indeed those of what makes school sport so special. In so many ways.

Reading Athletics

It was spent at the Berkshire Schools Athletics Championships at Palmer Park in Reading supporting our brilliant athletes....

Athletes

And reminiscing with old friends still actively involved in the sport about wonderful memories related to when we were competing at the very same event exactly forty years ago to the day! And here’s the evidence to prove it from the Reading Evening Post in 1979...

Derek Peaple

Not a bad group, in fact. I think I reached my athletic peak in the course of that now distant summer. Others went on to achieve far more! There must have been something special about that second row, in particular.

Gary Marlow from Bracknell. Stood directly next to me (I’ll let you enjoy the spectator sport of ‘14-Year-old headteacher in the making spotting’) and with whom I spent most of Saturday, was the fourth ranked 800m runner in the country for a while during the 1980s, just behind the world-beating  triumvirate of messers Coe, Ovett and Cram…

Athletes 

And on the far right, Jon Solly... from St.Bart’s. Future Commonwealth Games 10,000m Champion some seven years later in 1986...

Jon Solly

But just as significantly you also have the incomparable Stella Bacon, then PE Teacher, sat in the centre of the front row our Team Manager still fully involved as the announcer at last Saturday’s event four decades later!

Stella Bacon 

What amazing dedication and commitment to the sport and young people of the County; dedication and commitment also fittingly reflected in her contemporary Jill Wright’s award of a British Empire Medal in Saturday’s  Queen’s Birthday Honours List...

Jill Wright

www.getreading.co.uk/news/reading-berkshire-news/former-reading-teacher-honoured-queen-16375501

It was a pleasure and privilege to be able to add my personal congratulations and gratitude during the day.

So what? What continues to make school sport so important. Three ‘lessons’ from Saturday.

Firstly, that shared experiences through sport as a young person can create and sustain friendships beyond an individual school community that can last for decades...

Secondly, the incredibly enduring volunteer spirit and long-term discretionary commitment of teachers that create the capacity for such experiences and add so much value beyond the curriculum...

And finally, the sheer joy and exuberance of all of the young people who take part.

It all goes back to the roots...

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