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Stoolball coaching in Horley junior schools

Friday 14 October 2011, 9.22am

Stoolball England offered the five junior schools within the Horley Learning Partnership the services of a qualified coach to run after-school stoolball clubs during the summer term, funded by the Schools Sports Partnership. Three of the five schools accepted the invitation and their clubs ran for between 9-11 weeks depending on weather and other organised, competing activities.

Two of the three schools restricted membership of their clubs to years 3 and 4 with a turnout of up to 11 children each. Little or no stoolball had been played in these two schools previously (and neither had any equipment) and consequently there was little or no knowledge about the sport, from either the staff or the children.

In contrast, the third school opened the club to all year groups and the tremendous response forced splitting into two separate sessions on different evenings, with 37 children on the year 3/4 register and 20 on the year 5/6 one. This school has run a stoolball club for the past 3 or 4 years and two members of staff, both qualified coaches, were able to help.

Sessions were planned to cover all the basic skills of throwing, catching, fielding, bowling, batting and wicket keeping, though as they were run as after-school clubs the emphasis was very much on having fun, each week ending with a mini game.

The culmination of the season was a stoolball festival, again funded by the Schools Sports Partnership, held one afternoon during school time with parents invited. The festival was split into two parts. The first consisted of a small number of skill practices, both to warm up the children and to demonstrate what they had been learning during the term. There then followed a mini tournament with five teams playing a round-robin, with the team scoring the most runs overall being declared the winner.

Feedback from schools, children and parents was very positive. However it may be a challenge to run similar courses next year, due to new funding rules which see money go directly to secondary schools with little monitoring of how it is used. Minority sports such as stoolball may well lose out leaving young children who don’t like football or netball with fewer chances to participate in sport.

Tags: coaching, schools