Children’s enjoyment of sport and physical activity is being put front and centre of a new campaign aimed at coaches.
Play Their Way has been developed by the Children’s Coaching Collaborative, of which we are one of 17 partner organisations.
The campaign’s aim is to build a ‘child-first’ coaching movement and it was launched this morning with a special event at Peckham BMX Club, which is already changing the lives of young people through their child-first approach to coaching.
With the campaign aligning so closely with the goals of our strategy, it’s no surprise our chief executive Tim Hollingsworth has welcomed its launch.
“Positive experiences for children and young people are at the heart of Uniting the Movement – and child-first coaching is an important part of this,” he said.
“Our research tells us that for children, ‘fun’ is the primary reason for taking part in sport and activity. They will want to take part if they enjoy it.
“It’s vital that we put fun and enjoyment at the centre of sport and activity and give our children and young people the chance to shape their sporting experiences to boost activity levels.
“We look forward to working with our partners and supporting the amazing coaches across the UK. We want to give all children the chance to have their say – and play their way.”
Our latest Active Lives Children and Young People survey found that of those who regularly exercise, 47% strongly agree that they enjoy taking part in sport and physical activity – down from 51% prior to the coronavirus pandemic.
A child-first approach to coaching champions the child’s voice, choice and journey in sport and physical activity.
The same survey also showed that 53% of children and young people don’t get the recommended average of 60 minutes of physical activity a day.
This knowledge has driven Play Their Way to ensure children have the best possible experience in sport and activity through the people who know them best – their coaches.
The campaign will work with England’s 2.6 million coaches to build a grassroots movement aimed at increasing and improving child-first coaching in communities across the nation.
It’s hoped that by putting the child first, it will help them enjoy being active their own way and allow great coaching to inspire children into staying active for life.
Which for Heather Douglas, head of coaching and policy at UK Coaching, is what the campaign is all about.
“Coaches play such an important role in the development of children and young people’s lives, often in difficult circumstances, and can have a profound effect on the positive experiences they have in sport and physical activity,” she said.
“Our goal is for all children and young people, regardless of age, background or ability, to have a voice, choice and decide their journey when participating in sport and physical activity, so they develop a genuine and lifelong love for being active.”
The campaign has been developed using insight and engagement from a network of grassroots coaches, along with children and young people through a series of focus groups and workshops.
This morning’s event highlighted Peckham BMX Club as existing exponents of the child-first coaching the campaign is promoting, and their head coach CK Flash is keen to show others just what an impact it can have.
“It’s a really important moment for coaching across the nation, focusing entirely on our children and young people and understanding that to get the best out of them, coaches need to embrace creativity, independence and fun,” he said.
“Our ethos at Peckham has always been centred on supporting and mentoring young people in our local community, listening to them and understanding their needs.
“This is so important to helping them stay in sport and physical activity and gain the benefits that brings in other areas of their lives and which improve their life chances.”