Support through Sport UK spoke to Sharon Bassett to find about our new partner organisation - A-Star Sports ...
 
Hi Sharon. We are delighted to be partnering up with A-Star Sports. What is the aim of A-Star Sports?
 
We set up A-Star Sports with the aim of making sport as fun and enjoyable as possible for young children. We also wanted to ensure that what we do is accessible for all abilities and helps to develop well-rounded children who enjoy healthy activity. Our long term aim is for children to proactively choose sport as a positive part of their lives through individual pursuits, junior clubs and beyond. And it’s for this reason that organisations like Support through Sport UK are vital to us, so that we can help families find the right opportunities for their children both within and beyond the A-Star Sports programme.
 
How have you set about realising your aims?
 
Our team has decades of sports coaching experience. Through this experience and the support of our advisors, we developed a programme that not only breaks our ten core sports down to the most basic level but also takes into account children’s learning and encourages positive behaviour. Children can begin with us as early as two years with the fundamentals, which then develop into adapted versions of the sports themselves in the reception year and continue to progress technically and strategically through to the end of primary school. As a means of growing the business, we chose a franchising route and this enabled us to establish 11 operational territories in our first year with a view to having 40 up and running in four to five years’ time. Children can attend weekly classes and work towards our achievement levels, where they are rewarded for enthusiasm, motivation, team spirit, trying new things, effective contribution, responsible participation and improving knowledge and skills.  Holiday clubs offer the same developmental environment but our coaches can introduce sports beyond our core ten for a wider sporting experience.
 
In which parts of the country do you currently have weekly classes and holiday clubs?
 
We currently have franchisees and coaches in:
 
Chester and surrounding areas
Dunbartonshire, East and West
Dundee and Angus
Edinburgh North, West and surrounding areas
Edinburgh South and East, Midlothian and East Lothian
Lanarkshire, North
Lanarkshire, South
Perth and Kinross / East Fife
Renfrewshire and surrounding areas
Wirral
Wrexham, Oswestry and Whitchurch
 
With quite a few more in the pipeline!
 
Why do you think it is important for children to get involved in sport from such a young age?
 
There are so many reasons why it is important for children to get involved in sport from an early age. For example, research – and our own experience – continues to show us that participation in physical activity and sports is packed with health benefits, can support social and emotional well-being and, in the cases of many children, can improve academic performance. It’s also important to involve family and friends because positive role models and peers can really influence how much activity we do as well as the sports / activities we choose to participate in. Starting sport from such a young age means that the fun begins early as well as the benefits and there’s plenty of time to build confidence and try new things.   
 
The A-Star Sports coaching develops the skills for ten core sports. All of these sport are quite 'mainstream', with the exception of dodgeball. Can you tell us a bit about dodgeball and why you decided to incorporate it?
 
Dodgeball is simply fantastic and it’s seen as one of the fastest growing sports in the UK. It’s played with minimal equipment, is adaptable to smaller spaces and the kids just love it. The UKDBA – a member of our advisory panel – is a very supportive governing body and keen to see participation in accessible sports like dodgeball increase. Dodgeball is usually played 6-a-side. The game is started with three balls in the ‘deadzone’ – a central space across the middle of the court – and three runners from each team race from the back of the court to get the balls. Once in possession, team members work together to throw, catch, dodge and run in order to have the most players left at the end of the game. Players are out if they are hit directly by a dodgeball, their ball is caught by a member of the opposite team or they step out of the court without permission but can be brought back into play if a member of their own team catches a ball. Each game lasts two minutes and a match is usually three - five games. Over and above our ten core sports, and where our coaches have the wider experience, we often try less mainstream games and sports in our holiday clubs, such as adaptations of sofcrosse, tchoukball, kin-ball, bench hockey, ultimate frisbee and sitting volleyball. We’re always open to ideas!
 
What does the future hold for A-Star Sports?
 
We’re looking to grow substantially over the next few years to offer families a positive sports coaching experience that will give children the opportunity to try different sports and know that there are many more out there worth having a go at. We’re also looking at working with other organisations to encourage children to become involved in sports coaching. This way, we can positively influence children’s experience of sport from a young age as well as prepare them well to do the same for their own and other children in the long term future.
 
If parents want to sign their children up for the A-Star Sports classes or holiday clubs, how do they go about doing this?
 
The first thing to do would be to visit http://www.a-starsports.co.uk/our-programme/find-a-local-class/ and locate the nearest franchisee / coach to the local area from our postcode search facility. This leads to a local page with all the details of classes and holiday clubs and the contact information of the franchisee / coach to speak to about available places. We have new areas being listed quite regularly, so if we don’t currently operate in a particular area, drop us a line and we’ll let you know if we’re coming soon.
 
Many thanks for chatting to us, Sharon, and we look forward to working together.