Hundreds of local youngsters descended on the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) for the highly anticipated return of the annual Preston Primary Schools Indoor Athletics Finals.Advertisement
Around 350 year 5 and 6 pupils from primary schools around the city competed against each other in a variety of track and field events at UCLan’s Sir Tom Finney Sports Centre.
Among the schools taking part were Fulwood’s Queen’s Drive Primary School; Barnacre Road Primary School, Longridge; Greenlands Community Primary School, Ribbleton; Frenchwood Community Primary School, and St Bernard’s Catholic Primary School, Lea.
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Led by UCLan’s first year sports coaching and sports and PE students, all 25 schools participated in the relay, triple jump, javelin, standing long jump, speed bounce, chest pass and standing high jump.
Ten-year-old Ellie O’Neill, a Year 6 pupil from St Lawrence CE School in Barton, said: “I’m very competitive so I’ve really enjoyed being able to compete against people from other schools. I’ve also liked being able to spend the whole day doing physical activities.”
Scott Martland, Headteacher of the winning team Ashton-on-Ribble’s St Andrew’s CE Primary School, said: “The pupils get so much out of this event and it’s even more special this year after everything they’ve gone through in the past 18 months.
“This event is fantastic for their physical and mental health, but it’s also important for their resilience and social skills. It also gives them a sense of belonging and makes them work as a team in a fun and engaging environment.”
The UCLan undergraduates were joined by volunteers from Preston Harriers, who assisted with time keeping and demonstrations.
Joe Harland, 19, from Carlisle, was one of the sports coaching students who led the practical sessions.
He said: “When I graduate I want to work as a sports coach with development age children so this event is fantastic for me because I’m gaining vital practical knowledge of what their sports’ skill levels are and how to interact with large groups of young children.”
Dr Chris Gunn, UCLan Lecturer in Sport Business Management and Sport Coaching, worked closely with School Games Organiser Mark Birkinshaw, to coordinate the event.
He said: “We were delighted to host such a prestigious sporting event. UCLan excels in combining a rigorous academic programme with progressive experiential real-world learning opportunities.
“The experience gained from executing an event with more than 350 primary school children enables our students to develop relevant practical knowledge and understanding.
“It is a fantastic spectacle and one of my highlights of the academic year. It only happens because of the extensive efforts of numerous stakeholders. Seeing so many children having a great day out at our Sir Tom Finney Sports Centre makes all effort worthwhile.”
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