School Club Links - Why are they important ?

Updated: Aug 15, 2018

“It is becoming more and more used and there is a great need for schools and clubs to work more closely together – if only just in communication“- Sport Wales

"Satellite clubs can help bridge the gap between school, college and community sport – and provide new opportunities for young people to get active" - Sport England

A community sports hub is focused on the clubs around a sport centre, community centre, school, park or a playing field pavilion. In some cases a community sports hubs combines a number of these places, or it may simple centre on a single-venue hosting many clubs. The 'hub' is essentially a collective of progressive sport clubs working together in a local community. For schools this community sports hub is important for setting up Satellite clubs which in turn offer school-club links.

How do we get our pupils to participate in sport as the norm? Many schools do not have the sports facilities that will grab pupils attention, so there is a need to set up a school club links to enable pupils to further develop their skills in their chosen sport. Governing bodies support this.

Schools can set up a links with their local clubs. Our school has simply set up a website for our pupils and parents to find out what local clubs our available in our town. We have tried to keep the clubs within walking distance or a short drive which in turn will hopefully encourage pupils to go along together. The setting up of this website has highlighted the number of clubs on our doorsteps.

Suggested ways to implement School-Club links

We have started to set up satellite clubs within the school over the past couple of months. The key issue is when is the ideal time to run the club. Do we run it as an after school club, or do we advertise is as an evening club? We are have tried various scenarios.

Putting a club on straight after school, tends to result in the most pupils attending as they find this the easiest routine to follow. Parents can then pick them after work. This is the more traditional method. We currently run an after school cricket club, but instead of being held in school we run it at the local cricket club. This makes it different and encourages the pupils to think about joining the club. Furthermore setting up fixtures with local schools who like us have very few cricket players will give pupils this chance to taste the sport under little pressure.

Our biggest success story has been when we have put the satellite club on at 5pm. This starts to establish the club as a separate club from the PE department after school clubs. By putting the club on at this time allows pupils from other schools to come as well. Most go home and get changed and then come to the club at 5. Speaking with some of our fellow schools some have used the 5-6pm slot to focus on pupils from their primary feeder schools attending specific sport session e.g. netball or tennis. Our 5-6pm clubs tend to be linked to senior clubs. Our Monday night club is run by our local Volleyball club who run their junior club 5-6 and then have their senior club in the evening. They get the sports hall for free 5-6 as we want to encourage the club to run a junior session. Pupils who attend this session are committed and want to get involved with the senior club.

The final time slot to put a satellite club on is in the evening. If the venue is the school, then our pupils feel more comfortable when attending. Vice versa if the venue is elsewhere, but you are promoting the club, then your pupils need to be committed to attend. It may require a member of staff going along to the first few sessions so pupils feel comfortable attending. I have witnessed this with our local hockey club where members of staff have brought pupils to the venue using the school minibus for the first couple of weeks. Parents are still asked to pick them up at the end of the session.

We have very few school-club sessions that take place at the weekend, but sports such as rowing may require their sessions to be part of the junior club which tend to be ran on Saturday or Sunday mornings so they can continue to be ran throughout the year.

Whatever time slot you chose, it is simply not a case of saying the club is on at this particular time. Work with the club, the pupils and venue. How can you attract pupils to attend can take whatever form. What is important is be consistent and continue to work on it. Even if one pupil starts to attend then that is a success.

The final step in this process is to set up "Sports Pockets" whereby you set up sports fixtures between local schools who are a short distance between each other. This may not be in particular primary schools who are you feeder schools. It could just be schools within a 1/2 radius. This is something I will discuss at a later date.