If I had a pound for every time I have heard a well-meaning adult say this to a child standing pitch-side disconsolately at the end of a game, then lets’ just say I probably wouldn’t be standing pitch-side anymore! For many children, their whole world hinges on the result of that match whilst we know as adults that ‘there is always next week’. Except suddenly there wasn’t…
Covid-19 and the lockdowns that it brought about meant two years of fixtures were heavily disrupted and, for long periods, did not happen at all. Remote learning platforms enabled schools to help pupils maintain physical fitness and even facilitated ongoing technical skills development reasonably effectively. What could not be replicated were opportunities for being part of a team or the riding of the emotional roller-coaster that makes competitive sport such an intoxicating pursuit. A whole generation of children began to wonder if ‘next week’ would ever come.
Thankfully restrictions eased and pupils have been back to regular competitive sport for some time now. The early fixtures brought challenges. Pupils, who had spent months dancing to their own tune, suddenly had to collaborate with a whole team. The plethora of online, self-contained activities often with no outcome or consequence was suddenly replaced by rules, formations, responsibilities and results.
Quickly though, children found their rhythm, and the thrill of working towards a common goal, of sticking together and driving towards success as a team shone through. The thrill of pulling on their kit and wearing that school crest with pride was clear for all to see. Some games have been won and some have been lost but, even now as I write four months into the academic year, never has it resonated more clearly that whilst we might pursue the win, it really is the taking part that counts!
Kevin Molloy, Alleyn’s Junior School Director of Sport