Sharon Bassett of A-Star Sports tells Support through Sport UK about their summer of dodgeball ...
This year we’ve definitely had the summer of dodgeball. A-Star Sports kids have spent a day with ambassador Alex Harrison, England Lions dodgeball player and coach, putting his wider skills to the test over 10 core sports (including dodgeball). This was followed by an afternoon of dodgeball activities and matches with both the England Lions Men’s and Women’s teams, including a visit from Stephen Mosley MP, who was keen to roll his sleeves up alongside Kimba the Lion and get stuck into the sport that is truly ‘for all’ (even very tall MPs!). And - the icing on the cake - the locally hosted European Dodgeball Championships, where both England Lions teams triumphed, prior to a Euro Dodgeball Camp (a day of dodgeball for U13s in partnership with the UK Dodgeball Association (UKDBA)).
The most amazing outcome from this summer of dodgeball, though, is the positive impact that international sportsmen and women can truly have on young children. In the lead up to the Championships, the England players welcomed the opportunity to get stuck into the nitty gritty of physical activity and sports coaching with children as young as three years old and jump for joy (high fives aplenty) when a ten year old throws a corker that catches an England team-mate off guard.
On the days of the Championships themselves, A-Star Sports kids took on the role of ‘ball returners’. As one of them so neatly put it, “It’s like ball boys and girls at Wimbledon but for dodgeball!” Faced with such responsibility, the kids rose beautifully to the challenge and were rewarded beyond words. Players from all 18 teams stopped to talk to them, asked them what they thought of the matches and even shared tips and tactics. In the lunchtime demonstration games, which were initially just for kids, players from the Home Nations, Sweden and others came to join in. Within minutes the kids were aglow with confidence on a very open stage - working together, putting into practice skills and tactics they’d seen the international players use in previous matches.
Having involved kids in team talks, played matches, signed shirts and balls, passed on dodgeball memorabilia, even allowed them access to referees to check the rules (“If the ball hits the Swedish player’s rather long hair, would he still be out?” - the answer is yes!), the #EuroDodge2013 players are now superstars and role models. More importantly, they are real, accessible people who truly understand the power of hands-on inspiration.
Without doubt, it’s sport leaders like Alex Harrison and Martin Knight (England Lions Coach) that are really setting standards that will impact on positive participation both during and beyond primary level. They’re willing to bring a new dimension to children’s experience of sport and give hands-on help to show them just how much fun sport can be.