The 14th June saw the second biennial Festival of Sport held at Kingussie High School, offering more than 300 pupils the chance to try 23 sports and activities in and around their campus.
The local Badenoch Community Sport Hub, High Life Highland, school senior management and PE department, senior pupils and many Scottish Governing Bodies of sport (SGBs) came together in 2016 to plan this celebration of sport, and the day did not disappoint.
Sport First joined them to find out what makes it such a special event.
Support from the head down
As the assembly hall at Kingussie High began to fill up with sporting partners, it became clear very quickly that this is a community that loves sport. This day had been two years in the planning and everyone was focused on their shared objectives of offering sporting opportunities to the schoolchildren.
Senior pupils in S5 and S6 were on hand to support younger pupils as they enjoyed taster sessions, while P7 pupils making the transition to secondary were invited to take part in the activities and get familiar with their future campus.
Ollie Bray, head teacher and a passionate advocate for young people, gave the assembled clubs, governing bodies and sport development teams and visiting primary school teachers an overview of the school’s vision and priorities. One thing was crystal clear: sport and physical activity are good for attainment, good for the school and, most of all, good for the young people.
“The school really believe that sport and physical activity can have a very positive impact on the educational attainment and health of our pupils," he said.
"We are delighted to be working with Badenoch Community Sport Hub and a range of clubs and partners to develop this unique initiative and give our pupils further opportunities to get involved in local sport.”
“It was fantastic to hold our partners workshop this morning, reinforcing the importance of co-creating the curriculum and how partnerships can contribute to different courses we offer at the school.”
Focus on sport
John Mackay, head of PE, relayed the school’s delight at the strong club links formed as a result of the 2016 event, which saw pupils joining local clubs and new sports being offered as part of the curriculum.
Donald Hall, community sport hub officer at High Life Highland, welcomed and thanked the club coaches and volunteers. Badenoch Community Sport Hub was formed following the 2016 Festival such was the demand and passion in the local community for sport, and the hub was central to the development and planning of this year’s celebration event.
“Off the back of today we can enhance our curriculum programme by making links with these clubs," said John. "After the last Festival two years ago we added tennis, biathlon, skiing, golf and bowling to the curriculum. We’ve already had some great discussions with the horse riding club today so I hope we can develop this.”
Getting hands on
The 300 pupils in attendance browsed sports stalls, asked questions about their sports to the governing bodies and clubs, and visited the High Life Highland table to get one of their coveted leadership hoodies ... #itsallaboutthehoody
It felt like every inch of the school was used to demonstrate activities, from boccia to yoga, circuits to dance. Indoor halls housed basketball and gymnastics and the surrounding pitches played host to taster sessions of cycling, rugby, hockey, tennis and golf. There was even orienteering for pupils interested in trying their hand at map reading.
Everyone had the opportunity to try the sports they were keen on and to be coached through the techniques by experienced volunteers, SGB development staff and qualified coaches. Badenoch centre was full as people tried their hand at supervised gym sessions and body pump, working with weights and eagerly asking instructors questions about fitness.
Katie Wallace, S4, said: “Today’s been a great opportunity to try new sports, it’s been so much fun and a great atmosphere!”
As the last of the buses pulled away to take the pupils home, the team reflected on a great day. Discussions focused on how to capitalise on the excitement of the day and convert that to club memberships and new club links for the school.
It is little wonder that Badenoch and Strathspey area has produced more Olympic and Paralympic athletes per head of the population than anywhere else in the UK. The community and team spirit is enviably strong in Kingussie, local sport is flourishing and able to do what it does best, bringing people together.
David Smith, who won rowing gold at the 2012 London Paralympics, attended the school and several other former pupils became Winter Olympians who now work in the sports industry, including Andrew Freshwater (1998), Lesley McKenna (2002, 2006, 2010) and Noel Baxter (2002, 2006).
"It was a very successful event and it really showcased what a Community Sport Hub can achieve by working in partnership to encourage school-aged children to get more involved with sport and physical activity," said Donald.
"There was a real buzz about the school and pupils, staff and coaches really enjoyed the day.”
Well done to everyone involved in such a successful day! Thank you to Genny Guy at Kingussie High School for permission to use her excellent photographs.
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Partners involved: Kingussie High School, Active Schools, sportscotland, High Life Highland Leadership Programme, Badminton Scotland, Scottish Orienteering, Highland Rugby Football Club, Caberfeidh Horizons Boccia group, Badenoch & Strathspey Orienteering Club, Kingussie Golf Club, Kingussie Gymnastics Club, Kingussie Tennis Club, Kingussie Bowling Club, Highland Horse Fun, Kingussie Camanachd Club, Camanachd Association, High Life Highland Badenoch Centre, Scottish Cycling, UHI Inverness College, Cairngorm RDA Group, Cairngorm Runners, Aviemore Park Run.
Community sport hubs provide a home for sport. They bring together sport clubs and key local partners who want to develop and grow the sporting offering in the community. They focus on sustainable, community-led approaches that get clubs working together to develop welcoming, safe and fun environments for sport.
Community sport hubs are National Lottery-funded and are one of sportscotland's key programmes which contributes to legacy and supports local sport clubs to play their part in a world class sporting system.