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Football at lunchtime is now second-nature for students at Tui Glen School, thanks to KiwiSport – a government funded initiative administered by Sport Wellington designed to get school children active and more interested in sport.
The Stokes Valley school has been part of the Wellington Region Fundamental Movement Skills project since its inception three years ago, and Principal Philip Benson was involved in the consultation that made the project a reality.
The school has received three KiwiSport programmes this year – Football in Schools, moveMprove and swimming. All students have eight lessons in each skills programme, and the benefits are remarkable, he says.
“Not only is it an outlet for their energy, there is a noticeable improvement in their skills.”
MoveMprove, run through GymSports New Zealand, improves overall coordination and strength, which helps in other areas such as dance.
Lunchtime soccer matches would never have happened before KiwiSport; now the kids have a kick-around every opportunity they can get.
Tui Glen is a decile 2 school, and Philip says funding a sports programme isn’t easy. Challenges include the financial cost – to both the school and parents – of running some sports, attracting and retaining coaches, and providing activities that are interesting and varied.
Philip says KiwiSport takes away some of the pain, because the programme is subsidised by the government and employs expert coaches and instructors.
The council’s Leisure Active division coordinates the delivery of four skills programmes (moveMprove, Football in Schools, swimming and Get Set Go – run through Athletics New Zealand) to most of the region’s schools, on behalf of Sport Wellington. More than 81,000 lessons have been provided to local students so far this year.
The council’s KiwiSport Project Leader Mitch Carroll says the fundamental movement skills kids gain, such as hand-eye coordination, balance and agility, gives them the confidence to try different sports and strive to achieve sporting success.