UEL Sports Scholars – More than just great sportspeople

As the my first academic year at UEL draws to a close, I have been doing some reflecting on the achievements of our high performance athletes during the past 12 months.  The students won 15 medals at British University (BUCS) Championships, compared to 8 in the previous 12 months, and we have had a number of individuals in the running for Olympic and Paralympic selection.  There have been some surprises and disappointments along the way, but the most rewarding part of working with the scholars has been experiencing their passion for their respective sports, and their willingness to help young athletes achieve their sporting potential.

Scholars have been speaking in primary schools throughout the Borough of Newham, inspiring the sporting talent of the future, and demonstration first-hand the values of the Olympics.  As part of their contract, each scholar has carried out at least 10 years of ambassadorial duties on behalf of UEL, but many go much further than that.  A number of the scholars are involved in coaching, and not only maximise their sporting potential, but help others harness their talent too and groups across East London have benefited from the enthusiasm and expertise of our students.  One such group is students from BSix Sixth Form College, one of our Try a Sport 365 partners.  This is what they had to say:

Volleyball has bounced back this year at BSix Sixth Form College with the help of UEL.  A group of twenty students have been regularly attending weekly volleyball sessions with coach Dwaine Bowman, a UEL student.  The sessions were offered at the start of the year for five weeks through the UELSports: Try a Sport 365 programme.  A Sport England funded initiative to increase the number of students taking part in sport.  The sessions were so popular the students requested more, and volleyball returned in February.  Since then the group have been increasing their skills and confidence in the sport.

One of the BSix students attending said ‘we have really enjoyed the volleyball sessions, Dwaine helps us to improve our skills as well as have fun.’

By being active members of the Get Set network, the college were awarded tickets to two London 2012 volleyball preliminary events at Earls Court, as part of the London 2012 Ticketshare initiative.  The Get Set network is the official London 2012 education programme for schools, college and local authority education providers across the UK.

The college have asked Dwaine to attend the Olympic volleyball events with the group.

Sarah Kerrigan, Sports Coordinator at BSix Sixth Form, is excited about the tickets and also the link with UEL-

‘Volleyball has seen an increase in popularity in the college through the UEL sessions, especially among students who would not normally participate in sport.  Having a coach from the university was great, he related to the students, encouraging them to attend each week and they enjoyed every session.’

Claire Smith, UELSports Project Manager for Try a Sport 365 is pleased that the sessions have been going so well-

‘Our support to FE colleges is an important part of the Try a Sport 365 programme. We gave one of our own students the opportunity to coach and lead these sessions, and Dwaine has done a fantastic job. It is testament to his hard work and commitment that he has been given the opportunity to attend the London 2012 Volleyball competition.

The group are hoping to see ex-BSix student Elizabeth Reid compete when they attend the events in July, Elizabeth is a member of the Team GB Volleyball team.

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UEL Sports Scholar Dwain Bowman (left) with the groups of students which he coaches at BSix Sixth Form College

If you work with a group of young people in Newham who you feel would benefit from a visit from one of our inspirational sports scholars, or would like to find out more about our Try a Sport 362 project, please contact us on uelsports@uel.ac.uk.

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