Inspiring young people in schools
Stuart Robinson, 2014 and 2016 Invictus Games competitor for UK Armed Forces team
I initially saw the advertisement from Sports for Schools through a Blesma publication. They were looking for people who wanted to become a Sportivater – an outgoing, motivational person to help co-ordinate and run sports and fitness circuits aimed at young children within education. This scheme saw young children taking part in sports sessions and with the added bonus of meeting a high-profile athlete.
I sent off the email to Michael Ledzion at SFS and pretty quickly we were on the phone to one another discussing the concept. After hearing that I had recently competed at London 2014 IG, Michael kindly offered me the opportunity to participate in the events with them, as the athlete rather than the Sportivater. I was delighted and a little overwhelmed that somebody thought of me as a high profile athlete.
There is a bit of paperwork involved and then I was informed that before I stepped into the unknown and ran some event myself it would be good to if I witnessed a few first to get a real understand of how it’s all run.
The events usually follow the same format. The sportivater will run the fitness session with the children. They all thoroughly enjoy it and put plenty of enthusiasm and effort in. Once the whole school has been through this fitness session, the children return to class and get changed in preparation for the school assembly.
They then come back in and that’s when I’m introduced to the school. I then give a short speech where I tell my story – from being injured to using sport as part of my recovery and what I get out of competing in sport on an international level with the Invictus Games. I then run a session with some audience participation, to interact with the children and teachers. I then offer up the opportunity to the students to ask me any questions – they can really vary from sports to injuries to life in the military. Be prepared for some awkward ones but generally the head teacher or the Sportivater will help bat them off! You also receive from SFS some blue wristbands and I try to hand some of these out to the more interesting questions.
The whole event is either run in a morning or an afternoon session and length of the event depends on how many children there are.
In terms of planning, you just tick the days on which you are available to visit a school using an online information hub called the “sportal”. You can also set a maximum number of events you want to do in a school term. The team at SFS will then inform you via email (and using the sportal) of any events you have been booked in for. Everything is done a school term in advance, though you may sometimes be asked to step in for an event if an athlete that was booked in can no longer attend.
You get a small sum of money for every event that you attend (you receive a monthly statement from them, letting you know how many sessions you have run in the previous month and the pay you will be receiving for this). Mileage to and from events is also covered.
Overall I thoroughly enjoy doing the events with SFS, it is very rewarding working with the children and seeing the effort they put in and the genuine interest they have in my sporting career and life since injury. It also enables them to raise funds and purchase sporting goods for the school and the community. And I have the flexibility to train around events and also to carry out any further employment I have. So all in all, I’d recommend anyone to get involved with Sports For Schools.