Returning to school and returning to sport

AS MANY CHILDREN RETURN TO SCHOOL THIS MONTH, SEVENOAKS SPORT & WELLBEING EDITOR STEVE ROWLEY, LOOKS AT THE IMPACT COVID-19 WILL HAVE ON SPORT IN SCHOOL.

At the end of February this year, we all knew things were going to change in our lives, but I don’t think anyone could honestly say that they were ready for the sheer magnitude of the changes we now treat as the norm.

Life goes on and we have adapted, just as we did during wartime Britain, the industrial revolution, the invention of the iPhone. We now find ourselves in new territory, but we adapt our lifestyles to suit the occasion.

To this point, guidance on how schools are expected to reopen in September covers a huge range of issues, from transport, to exams, to staff and pupil safety, and sport participation too. Many children have been away from the classroom for at least five and a half months. Many will not have spoken to friends during that time and many will have hung up their sports equipment, which possibly enjoyed it’s last outing in March.

Many however, will have returned to their sports clubs during the summer months, getting the physical and mental fitness they need. Meeting up with friends, kicking a ball about the park and doing shuttle runs on the hockey pitch.

Although there are some caveats because of the way in which people breathe during exercise, Physical Education is allowed to return to schools this autumn. They have been given the flexibility to decide how they deliver PE and sport while adhering to the necessary safety measures, including pupils remaining in their own age groups, sports equipment being thoroughly cleaned between each session and, most notably, avoiding contact sports.

Outdoor sports will be prioritised where possible, and large indoor spaces used where it is not, maximising distancing between pupils and paying scrupulous attention to cleaning and hygiene.

The government published guidance in August suggesting that rugby, football, netball, basketball and hockey will all not be possible, and whilst many children will just be pleased to get back out the house and running across the school field or playground, others may feel hard done by and that they are not getting the level of physical fitness they need.

So what sports are left? Well it seems that running will be a major winner here as it has minimal to no contact. With the use of stopwatches, teachers will be able to host time trials and keep that competitive sporting edge with an updated leader board in the classroom.

One headteacher commented: “In terms of PE lessons we are looking at non-contact sport such as cross country running and fitness. We have a very well-equipped gym which we won’t be able to use for lessons but will use it for extracurricular work. Many schools can’t plan sports fixtures yet but they will be looking to a return because competitive sport is an important part of children’s lives at school”.

Schools will be able to work with external coaches, clubs, and organisations for curricular and extracurricular activities, if deemed safe.

A spokesperson for the Association for Physical Education (afPE) said: “afPE is committed to ensuring students can participate in purposeful physical education and physical activity at this time. Teaching physical education at the moment will not be like before, or the preferred model. However, by making adaptations we believe some meaningful work can be undertaken if it is planned well and protective measures and social distancing are applied consistently across your setting”.

“We are also committed to ensuring that the workforce is protected, feels safe and has access to the most up to date guidance” they added.
Another bit of good news is that schools will be permitted to run breakfast and after-school activities. However, of course, they will need to adhere to hygiene and distancing rules and, as noted above, with so many usual activities such as sports, music and singing not possible or greatly curtailed, how many such clubs can continue will be another matter.

Sport premium
As a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, the Department for Education has also taken steps to relax the ring-fencing arrangements for the PE and sport premium in the 2019 to 2020 academic year to allow any unspent grant to be carried forward into the next academic year (2020 to 2021). Where schools are carrying forward under-spends, their published online report should set out the amount being carried forward and give brief reasons for this under-spend.

Grassroots sport outside of schools
Children of all ages are now allowed to recommence playing sports within a club environment and the numerous governing bodies’ guidance means that all clubs must have completed a safeguarding and Covid-19 risk assessment before every training session and match, helping to make a safe return to sports for players, coaches and parents alike.

It is at this time of year that many parents will start looking around the area in which they live to provide sporting opportunities for their children. Statistically, the majority will choose football, but, with so many football clubs offering a variety of options for you and your child, which one do you go with? The Sevenoaks District has a total of 12 football clubs offering junior football from West Kingsdown to Edenbridge and Swanley to Sevenoaks Weald, and each one has a different setup.

The majority of junior football clubs offer their membership at extremely reasonable rates; however these can change depending on the age of your child.

Here’s a quick run down of the different costs over a season:
• Kingsdown Racers: £35
• Ide Hill: £130
• RAWSkills: £130
• Swanley Rangers: £160
• Chipstead: from £185
• Westerham: from £200

Bear in mind that one club’s offering may be completely different to another, for example a club may offer your child a full kit as part of the membership fee.

For up to date membership rates, we suggest you contact the club for clarification before you sign up.

Below you can see all the age ranges our local clubs offer and whether they have teams for just boys (b) girls (g), or mixed (m). We have also included each club’s contact details for ease of reference.

Index of junior football clubs in the Sevenoaks District

1. Chipstead
Chipstead Recreation Ground
Chipstead, TN13 2SA
Contact: Caroline Davies
Phone: 07771 700612
Email: chipsteadkentfc@gmail.com

2. Edenbridge Spitfires
Lingfield Road,
Edenbridge, TN8 5DY
Contact: Mark Dodd
Phone: 07713 760484

3. Ide Hill
Ide Hill Recreation Ground,
Ide Hill, TN14 6JL
Contact: Clare Dance
Phone:07825 085171
Email: c-dance-harvey@hotmail.co.uk

4. Kingsdown Racers
West Kingsdown Primary School,
West Kingsdown, TN15 6JP
Contact: Val D’Rosario
Phone: 07775 654945
Email: valentine.drosario@gmail.com

5. Otford United
High Street, Otford, TN14 5PG
Contact: Tracey Moore
Phone: 07999 782136

6. RAWSkills
Lingfield Road,
Edenbridge, TN8 5DX
Contact: Martin Harris
Phone: 07778 184008
Email: rsfcsecretary@gmail.com

7. Sevenoaks Town
Greatness Park, Mill Lane,
Sevenoaks, TN14 5BX
Contact: Paul Lansdale
Email: info@sevenoakstownfc.co.uk

8. Sundridge United
Sundridge Recreation Ground,
Main Road, Sundridge, TN14 6AD
Contact: Simon Connolly
Phone: 07505 488244
Email: theresa.longbottom@hotmail.com

9. Swanley FC
St. Marys Road, Swnaley,
BR8 7BU
Contact: Gary Orpin
Phone: 07748 454940

10. Swanley Rangers
Beechenlea Lane, Swanley, BR8 8DR
Contact: David Hunt
Phone: 07703 003987
Email: Clubsec.swanleyrangers@gmail.com

11. Weald Wolves
Weald Recreation Ground, Morley Road,
Sevenoaks Weald, TN14 6QR
Contact: Sarah Howes
Phone: 07919 990614
Email:

12. Westerham
King George’s Fields,
Off Brasted Road
Westerham, TN16 1TD
Contact: Paul Carter
Phone: 07770 801584
Email: westerhamjuniorfc@btinternet.com