Why is Washington a Sports Hub?

Since starting this website in January 2018, the investigation into what is going on in the town has been vast and exciting. Having worked as a PE teacher in Washington for 19 years my journey has seen the sports picture change both in education and in local sports provision. Washington is a large town which has a unique democratic build up. You just have look at the distance between our secondary schools 3 miles between Oxclose Academy and Washington Academy, with Biddick Academy and St Robert of Newminster in between.

We have massive amount sport going on in Washington and as I write this article we have a lot of green space for our Sports clubs to use. The junior football clubs are numerous and seem to be thriving in terms of numbers. We have a new Leisure centre which offers the people of Washington a wide variety of activities. Secondary schools have large Sports Halls which can accommodate different sports groups. Primary schools are promoting so much sport through the use of their new funding streams. Sports clubs are developing their facilities to ensure they give all the participates the best experience possible. It is all very positive.

It will be interesting to see how this picture changes with the new development at Northern area pitches. Will this development work I do not know as not all football clubs have come on board. It is great to have these 3G pitches in the one area, but surely to ensure usage during the day it would have been better to have these pitches placed in our Secondary schools, thus allowing for development of Sports participation by our younger generation (not just football). The demand for artificial pitches in schools is unquestionable as the North East climate tends to rule out the use of our grass pitches which in turn reduces activity options. Schools will be unable to use these pitches during the day as the increased cost of transportation rules out this option. However the development is exciting and provides a top quality facility for Washington and the surrounding area.

The number of clubs using the secondary schools facilities has increased in my time here in Washington. Although the secondary schools still need to do more to attract more. The financial pressures on schools does sometimes mean that filling the facility with whoever, rather than thinking about what is best for our students in terms of school club links. Football still tends to dominate the usage of our Sports Halls, however with more 3G pitches available this may change. My feelings are schools are a great source of participants for our sport clubs therefore getting a variety of sports using the schools facilities can benefit both parties, financially and numbers taking part. The success stories are numerous...

Washington Wolves Volleyball club @ St Roberts

Washington badminton satellite club @ St Roberts

Washington netball satellite club @ St Roberts

Back to Netball @ St Roberts

Oxclose Basketball club @ Oxclose

Yehlex Badminton Club @ Biddick

Washinton Running club @ Biddick

We need more clubs using our school facilities. The clubs have the opportunity to build their junior sections up through the students who attend our primary and secondary schools. I do hope when we have a Washington Sports Hub meeting in the New Year we can start to work together to get more clubs established in our schools.

All the people running our clubs are enthusiastic about what they do. I have spoken to the majority of them and the key message from them was they wish to develop more school club links. We are in the unique situation in Washington in that we can develop more interschool leagues where schools have minimal distance to travel to get a game. The new Washington Schools Basketball league is the prime example of how the schools can work together to establish something. These local Washington leagues give the students the chance to compete at a fun level. Pupils turn up for training week on week, but they need to play fixtures to apply what they have learnt. Clubs can help to develop this by supporting the running of the leagues. The introduction of the Primary Pockets programme in the New Year where schools are encouraged to walk to their fixtures is just another example of the unique geography of Washington. 

Washington is great place, with a lots of sports clubs, lots of enthusiastic people and lots of schools to feed these clubs. If I had a wish list then the following items would appear on it

- The development of a Washington Sports Club which covers a variety of sports. This would be based around a clubhouse setup similar to Ashbrooke in Sunderland. Social development is as important as participation development.

-The upgrade of more sport specific facilities allowing our clubs to participate at the highest level, but also establish new sports in the town e.g. hockey.

- For clubs to work together to promote increased participation e.g. our football clubs could actively promote other sports the will have no effect on their participation levels. Washington cricket club is an example of this whereby once the junior football season have finished some of the players can then take up a second sport. This prevents burn out. If one sport is not going well, they have a second sport which may lift their spirits. This is something we will discuss at the Washington Sports Hub meeting in the New Year.

Thank you for taking the time to read this article. Any feedback would be greatly appreciated.