Tameside’s school pupils receive physical boost by Partnership’s work

TWO people’s efforts are bringing physical benefits to all of Tameside’s pupils – and maybe unearthing possible stars of the future.

Emma Toone and Geoff Oldfield, who head up the Tameside School Sports Partnership, have co-ordinated and delivered events with one aim in mind – to enhance the lives of youngsters through physical activity.

From tag rugby and netball to football and cross country, pupils in both primary and secondary education have engaged in fun and friendly competition.

The primary aim of the work is to promote the benefits of living an active and healthy lifestyle – and just getting kids involved is key.

Emma and Geoff’s mission is all the more important given the alarming rates of obesity among children in the borough.

Georgia Taylor Brown MBE

Current statistics on Tameside Council’s website paint a fairly worrying picture as 27 per cent of children start reception overweight, rising to 36 per cent by year six.

The popularity of gaming and the addictive nature of social media are certainly regarded as contributing factors.

So, with these barriers in place, just how do Emma and Geoff combat the problem and entice youngsters into sport?

“We work with local schools and clubs, providing fun and inclusive events but in a competitive environment,” said Emma.

“It’s a role we’ve undertaken for a decade, and during that time we’ve increased the number of activities available to ensure there’s a sport that appeals to every individual, regardless of fitness or ability level.

“Our ultimate objective is to give pupils a taste of sport during school and term hours, in the hope that they will be hungry for more and join a club in the future.”

Such has been the uptake in participation from schools across the borough, Emma and Geoff recently held an awards ceremony at Dukinfield Town Hall to honour those who have gone above and beyond in their quest to improve pupils’ lives through sport.

Amongst other contributing factors, criteria for receiving the awards were based on Engagement and Commitment to School Sport and PE, leadership opportunities, competition entries, school games mark application and inspiration events.

And what better way to inspire pupils than with a guest appearance from Droylsden’s World Champion triathlete Georgia Taylor-Brown, who studied at Ashton Sixth Form College before securing a gold medal in the mixed relay whilst representing Great Britain at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Georgia’s appearance is one of many to be organised by Emma and Geoff, with Manchester United and England star Ella Toone taking time out to deliver a motivational speech ahead of the Lionesses’ European Championship success in 2022.

Although the current participation rates are promising, there are hopes to improve the figures and increase the provision of sport to even more pupils – with new and exciting activities penned in next term.

And a bit of Disney stardust will be sprinkled as Emma added: “As well as our staple sports, including quicksticks hockey and table tennis, we’re also launching glow dodgeball, a brand-new event, which includes ultraviolet lights and music.

“We’re also hosting a football event with a twist, aimed at girls in year one and year two.

“It’s named the Disney Football Festival, which allows participating girls to attend in their favourite Disney characters attire.

“Ultimately, we feel it’s an opportunity to create a love of football from a very young age through the means of something relatable and enjoyable.”

The ever-popular tag rugby event took place at Dukinfield Rugby Club and saw Russell Scott Primary School, based in Denton, crowned champions.

While the competition is co-ordinated by the Tameside School Sports Partnership, Emma thanked the clubs and officials who facilitate the event, officiate games and help to make it possible.

She continued: “As is the case with the majority of our competitions, we rely on the assistance of organisations and clubs to maintain standards and deliver high quality events.

“We also feel it’s an opportunity for clubs to promote what they offer and attract new players to training sessions and fixtures.

“The relationships are proving invaluable and It’s a win-win situation.”


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