London 2013 Paralympic footballer and University of Exeter student Robin Williams gave pupils a talk on life as an elite athlete.

Sporting Stars day inspires local children

On Thursday 13 February, the University of Exeter held its third ‘Sporting Stars’ day of the academic year, attended by students hailing from four different local Primary Schools; Maynards, Stoke Hill, Yeoford and Cheriton Bishop .

Now in its second year, Sporting Stars works to inspire and entertain children through sport, away from the everyday school setting. The event offers pupils the chance to participate in a variety of different sports, and immerse themselves in workshops underlying the basic science behind sport.

The day also offered a chance for the University’s students to utilise their skills, organised by a committee of undergraduate students aided by members of the University’s acclaimed Sports Volunteer Scheme (SVS), funded by the University of Exeter Annual Fund and QualiTest UK.

SVS coordinator Megan Russell commented; “It is a privilege for the University to have the opportunity to organise an event for the community that has been so graciously welcomed, and give the children a fun and educational day away from the classroom.

“At Sporting Stars we are determined to encourage the development of British Sport and inspire the next generation of young athletes. Everyone knows how important sport is to society and what a great industry it is to gain potential careers from. Therefore, we are doing are upmost to galvanise children into realising their full potential.”

The day featured immersive seminars encompassing Psychology, Physiology, Nutrition and Movement; all of which gave pupils an opportunity to get involved, get on their feet and has fun whilst learning the intricacies that these subjects offer.

Taught by current University staff, students and experts from companies such as Exercise Science Consulting, the combination of detailed knowledge and fun exercises helped children learn what can be often be tricky subjects with great ease – and help them retain information.

On top of all of this, pupils were given presentations from England Rugby Player Zoe Saynor and London 2012 Team GB Paralympic Footballer Robin Williams who showed what life is like as a gifted sportsperson.

Robin said: “The Sporting Stars education days provide an opportunity for youngsters to gain an insight in to the lives of elite athletes, as well as to further their understanding of various facets of sporting performance. I was pleased to be able to assist in the delivery of this programme by giving an overview of my career as a member of the England and GB blind football team, and recounting my experience of the London Paralympics and other major tournaments.”

After a morning of scientific workshops, students were given a taster in two sports; rugby (led by representatives from Exeter Chiefs) and squash.

Meg added: “Over the past 18 months, Sporting Stars have managed to bring experts from a range of different sports, including tennis, cricket and even lacrosse,  which are often  more difficult to get involved in. Often when playing a new sport, a child will realise that the skills they have gained thus far are transferrable to other sports, and Sporting Stars can really open a child’s eyes to the wide possibilities available to them. All this information is included in a free goody bag handed out to every pupil that attends.

“The day isn’t all about the students however. Teachers from the local primary schools, can take more of a back seat and admire the master-classes that their students are given. Sporting Stars gives their pupils the opportunity to express themselves in a learning environment. The children, some of whom are known to be shy and intrinsic, started to come out of their shells and relish in the activities. Moreover, teachers are also able to learn from the coaches and seminar leaders in terms of teaching and delivering subjects in a way that is easy and fun for the students to learn.

“Since the first Sporting Stars day, it has always been a huge success. School children have enjoyed themselves, teachers have savoured the days and the students who organised the event adore being able to do this too. It is a perfect example of how the University can positively influence local communities.”

Date: 20 February 2014