'Sport For All' programme enables all students to access free sport every week

Wednesday, 02 December 2015

Betheny Cope, 17, works on her self-defence skillsDid you know that Seevic College provides every student with the opportunity to take part in a sporting activity at least once a week?

Every week hundreds of local young people are benefiting from a programme of free Sport For All activities, thanks to funding provided by Sport England’s Active Colleges programme and Essex County Council’s Active Essex project. 

Activities include non-traditional sports such as parkour (freerunning), mixed martial arts and Thai boxing alongside more traditional sports including dance, badminton, tennis and swimming.

More than 20 different activities are offered from Monday to Friday – all completely free to students. Sessions are designed to be fun, welcoming and non-committal, enabling any student to simply turn up and play.

The Sport For All programme is coordinated by College Sports Maker Clare Thomas and began in September 2014.

Sport England funds Clare’s salary plus all activities, specialist coaching and hire of facilities. Additional funding for six-week activities is provided by Active Essex.

College Sports Maker Clare Thomas (far left) and students prepare for a free Mixed Martial Arts session provided by Progressive Martial Arts Academy of Eastwood, as part of the College’s ‘Sport For All’ programmeClare is a former Seevic College student, having studied A-Levels at the College. A former competitive swimmer, she holds a degree in Sport & Exercise Science and a Masters in Scientific Research.

She said: “Sport England believe that every young person has the right to access high-quality sport and physical activity whatever their background, gender or the place of study. 

“The Sport For All programme at Seevic gives students the opportunity to try different things for the first time, including non-traditional sports.

“We have been able to remove barriers to participation for young people who want to try activities like Mixed Martial Arts, but who wouldn’t have previously done so because they lacked the confidence to join an outside club or simply could not afford to do so.

“It’s incredibly rewarding to be able to increase access to sport for young people while also having the opportunity to embed physical activity within education and training at the College.”

Betheny Cope, 17, studies BTEC Level 3 Art and Design at the College and participates in Mixed Martial Arts each Tuesday.

She said: “Not many colleges offer this opportunity. It has helped me to mix with other people as well as to get fit. This is something that is very enjoyable but that is also helping me to learn how to protect myself. Overall, it’s a great learning experience.”

"It is great that the College offers these kinds of activities" Maisie Daniels, 17

Maisie Daniels, 17, studies A-Levels at the College and also takes part in Mixed Martial Arts.

She said: “It is nice to have the opportunity to learn how to protect yourself whilst being active and fit. It is great that the College offers these kinds of activities. It proves that there is more out there than just the basic sports like football, netball and rugby.”

The Sport For All programme has also provided opportunities for students to gain their own coaching qualifications and then to lead sessions at the College.

Additionally, it has provided opportunities for mainstream learners to participate in activities alongside those with learning disabilities. This is mutually beneficial in developing awareness of equality and how to co-exist effectively.

Nationally, Sport England’s Active Colleges programme has provided £25 million of National Lottery funding to help more college students play a sport. It aims to prevent young people from stopping playing sport when they leave school, and to encourage teenagers to keep playing sport.

Essex County Council’s Active Essex scheme is the county’s Sport and Physical Activity Partnership. Their vision is to create a more physically active and sporting environment for all people in Greater Essex, to enable everyone to participate in the activity of their choice at their chosen level.

Around 2,500 young people attend Seevic College’s Benfleet Campus. 

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