Fun Direction debuts in East Wall July 2014
Project Fun Direction was born last Monday July 28th when we began our first ever multi-sport activity in St Mary’s Youth Club, East Wall, to provide 40 local girls aged 5-8 with a gateway into organised sport. After months of preparations pulling together all the resources required to bring this community project to fruition, it was a relief to get to the part we felt most confident about – coaching the girls and seeing them experience new sports. At his core, this project is about providing opportunities that aren’t there currently. Less than 10 of our girls last week had played any organised sport outside of school before last week.
Fun Direction has two elements, providing fun and giving direction. We must provide a fun environment. It’s not rocket science but that is the crucial factor when coaching this age group. If not, they won’t come back tomorrow or next week and nor should we expect them to. We can facilitate them having fun while also meeting our second objective – giving direction. We should be able to quietly achieve our own coaching objectives which centre on developing the fundamental ABC movement skills of Agility, Balance and Coordination. Regardless of ability, kids of this age should be experiencing many different activities in a way that equips them to fulfill their potential across a range of sports and specialise later, on their own terms. Coaching Ireland dictate the content for qualifications in coaching children aged 5-8 across various sports. This is the FUNdamental phase of their Lifelong Involvement in Sport and Physical Activity (LISPA) framework . It aims to provide a good foundation while exposing kids to as many sports and activities as possible before they decide to specialise in later years. None of us would expect to build a house without making sure the foundations are strong and sporting participation is no different.
Our job coaching 5-8 year olds is to match their motivation to have fun with our primary objective to develop their physical literacy, regardless of the sport. The biggest reward for coaches at this age group are happy faces. I also love seeing the small incremental improvements in agility, skills and confidence day-by-day and week-by-week. Of course, a little patience also goes a long way but the feel good factor is hard to beat !
Of all the sports the 40 girls experienced last week from athletics, soccer, camogie, gaelic football, cricket, rugby and ultimate frisbee, there was a unanimously positive reaction to the Karate session with Brian Carroll and assistants from Larkhill Karate Club. The squeals of laughter were infectious without a moments complaint from the girls despite the high intensity workout ! I’m going to have a close look at Brian’s session next week in O’Connells to try figure out what his secret is !
Alongside the sport, we were conscious we needed to provide some downtime for the girls and we wanted to make this fun as well. We incorporated music into the activities through daily guitar and sing-a-long sessions with Andy Coogan. We also had a major theme of healthy eating at the core of the project which was delivered by Dr Lorraine Brennan and her colleagues from the UCD Institute of Food and Heath. Both of these will be topics for an upcoming blog post but just to say we couldn’t have delivered last week’s activities without incorporating both of them.
There were a number of other people and bodies without whom we could not have delivered last week’s camp:
- Maureen O’Sullivan TD and the board of St Mary’s Youth Club
- Aideen O’Connor from DCC’s Dublin City Sports Network
- Tesco provided the healthy lunch each day
- Aine Fanning from St Vincents Camogie
We also received important financial sponsorship from the following organisations
- IFSC Inner City Trust
- Smurfit Kappa Group
- RSM Farrell Grant Sparks
- First Ireland Risk Management
- Prime Property Management
We look forward to seeing all of the girls again on a weekly basis from end August onwards and hope to help them on the road to participating in organised sport in their own community as they grow up. In the meantime, we have another hectic two weeks ahead of us with 40+ new girls aged 5-8 in O’Connells School starting this Tuesday. Deep breath and…… let the fun begin !
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I will be posting on this blog once or twice a week over coming months on the topic of child development through sport so if you’re a parent or coach, click the Follow button on the right hand side here and type your email address in the box to receive new posts directly.
Thanks for your interest and I’ll catch up soon