Last week a group of excited Sports Leaders from Simon Langton Girls’ Grammar School took a trip to the Herne Bay Hub Sports Centre to help organise a primary school hockey tournament. Schools from the Canterbury and Herne Bay area were welcomed, with Years 3 & 4 competing in the morning and Years 5 & 6 later in the afternoon. The day was full of excitement and the talent among the schools was inspiring. 

Spurred on by their shiny new whistles, the Sports Leaders took on their first leadership roles with great enthusiasm. Their first task was to set up the custom sized pitches for the younger years, followed by a teacher briefing they were keen to attend. The schools were split into pools, with the top teams making it through to the quarter finals, then semis leading up to the final. All pitches were umpired by the Sports Leaders who successfully demonstrated their ability to lead fair, fun matches and apply adjusted rules to the younger years for a more flowing game. A connection between the Leaders and the players emerged throughout the day as they became not only umpires but cheerleaders for all the schools, ensuring everyone was having a good time both on and off the pitch. 

After a very successful morning getting to grips with umpiring and taking charge of matches, tension rose in the final of the Years 3 & 4 tournament, initiated by some ultra-competitive school teachers. One teacher, clearly very passionate about the success of his team, began to argue with one of the Sports Leader’s decisions and got a bit too close for comfort when he walked right onto the pitch to directly confront the umpire. Considering his quite heated and argumentative confrontation the umpire handled the situation very well by standing by her decision and dismissing his angry words. Although competition is important for the teams, unprofessional and argumentative behaviour should never be tolerated. It is an unnecessary distraction for younger children, and not the type of behaviour they should be exposed to, detracting from the sportsmanship and joy of competition that needs to be nurtured in young people.  

Things got serious in the afternoon as the talent among Years 5 & 6 was prominent across all teams. Games were now held on larger pitches where Sports Leaders grew in confidence and took control of game play, even though it required a lot more running up and down than expected! The games were wonderful to witness and the excitement exploded as numbers were whittled down after further into the tournament; in the teams who made it through, teamwork was undeniably their secret to success. Medals were presented to the top 3 teams and huge cheers were let out for all the teams as the day drew to an end.

Events like this are vital to encourage a passion for fun physical activity from an early age as well as giving older students a friendly platform to begin their journey in leadership and developing well-rounded skills that can be transferred into any environment. All the teams left with a great sense of pride in their achievements throughout the tournament, and the Sports Leaders left the pitch buzzing from the excitement, with a new-found confidence in themselves and their ability to impact the community around them.