On 7 April 2018 I was one of six writers who attended the launch workshop for the After School Action Series (ASAS) project.
After coffee and tea, we introduced ourselves and shared our own experiences of participation in after school programmes. Jacqui Boulle, head of the After School Game Changer, shared some success stories of after school programmes. To mention one, she told us a story of a soccer coach who bravely took a boy who played on his team from a group of gangster he’d been hanging out with at the corner of the street. This changed the boy’s life.
Jose, who runs sports after school programmes, told us about the hierarachy of sport. He put ‘playing’ at the bottom, ‘recreation’ in the middle, and ‘high performance’ at the top. He said kids are often expected to play sport only for a purpose – i.e. to be aiming for high performance sport. But through after school programmes kids can have a chance to be themselves, get fit, learn team work and simply play.
After a tea break we did writing activities. We were asked to write stories that would be interesting to learners so that they would be encouraged to attend after school programmes. There are so many different kinds of programmes available, it’s not just about maths and improved academics. There’s dancing, soccer, reading, chess… the list goes on.
I chose to write about after school soccer, as often parents don’t encourage their kids to play sport – they see this as a waste of time and think that academics should be the focus of their child’s world. So, they force their children into extra maths classes, which they don’t enjoy.
I think it’s time parents learn about the wider benefits of sports, and also accept their children as they are – support them in whatever field they are interested in and good at.