Children get active in lockdown with online sports club

Almost 14,000 children & young people tune in for their sports club.

From active animal adventures in living rooms to underwater Paralympics in the kitchen with a Paralympian, thousands of children have been making good use of a charity’s After School Sport Club following months of restrictions on after school sport. 

Since the Youth Sport Trust’s (YST) After School Sport Club launched on 16 November in response to sports clubs being cancelled due to lockdown, 19 online clubs have taken place led by a number of sporting stars. Each club is designed to include a range of fun, exciting and challenging activities which help kids workout, stay fit and healthy while also supporting their broader personal development and learning through sport.  

More than 17,600 children have so far been tuning in live at home to enjoy a range of activities with the YST’s athlete mentors including Paralympic swimmer Kate Grey, World Champion inline skater Jenna Downing, rowing champion Toby Garbett and boxing star Rachael Mackenzie. 

Ali Oliver MBE, Chief Executive at the Youth Sport Trust, said: 

During the first national lockdown children’s activity levels fell impacting on their physical and mental wellbeing and our own research showed that, for some schools, delivering PE and sport as usual has just not been possible this side of Christmas.  

Following the first few weeks of After School Sport Club running online, we are so pleased to see how it has helped thousands of children to keep active and motivated to do their sports through this second lockdown.  

We hoped it would bring young people together to have some fun and connect through sport, and we are thrilled to see it has done just that. We thank everyone who has supported the club and taken part to date, it really does prove that when we play life gets better.

The club, which has a fun theme each day, has seen numerous sporting stars and governing bodies come out to show their support online since it started, including former England footballer Rachel Brown-Finnis, British Judoka Chris Skelley, and World Champion and Paralympian Hannah Cockroft MBE.

It is also proving a hit with parents with many saying it is keeping little ones busy after school, and some schools are even setting it as homework for children.  One parent in Birmingham said: “Children definitely aren’t doing their 60 active minutes on school days so thought we’d try this”. Another commented on how the fun After School Sport Club had their one-year-old joining in showing how it is helping to build a love of movement in the early years: “Still a couple of years off his first proper After School Club at 16 months...but he loved it - especially being a snake!” 

Dame Katherine Grainger, chair of UK Sport, said: 

This year has been a year like no other with the pandemic impacting on every part of our daily life, but what has been a constant source of encouragement is how we have met these challenges. The Youth Sport Trust recognised how much the second lockdown would affect sport for children and acted quickly to launch the After School Sport Club – and it has been a fantastic success. 

When I was in primary school, sport was built into our day, our week. I didn’t even think about it, I just thought it had always been there and would always be there. Lots of us recognise school sport as a place for children to be inspired, to enjoy being challenged, and to have fun. That was why it was so important for the Youth Sport Trust to launch the After School Sport Club to ensure those moments weren’t missed and that children can enjoy a range of fun activities that help them stay healthy. 

“Personally, I joined swimming, badminton, and cross-country clubs as well as teams for hockey and netball. Some things I was good at and some distinctively less so, but I enjoyed them all. In secondary school I tried karate and by the time I left I was a black belt. I was never thinking about a career in sport, it was all about having fun, and getting involved in things I was passionate about. I believe that’s where the After School Sport Club has really shone – delivering something truly fun for children which otherwise wouldn’t have been there.” 

St Breock School in Wadebridge, Cornwall, replaced normal after school activities by tuning into the club live from the school’s sports hall to give children the opportunity to take part with World Thai boxing and British boxing champion Rachael Mackenzie, much to the delight of its children. 

Each day the club starts at 5pm and lasts for 30 minutes, helping children to achieve 30 of their 60 active minutes a day as outlined by the Chief Medical Officer. In between the clubs, sporting stars will also be setting children challenges to beat their own attempts. After School Sport Club will run until 18 December, when videos will then remain on the charity’s YouTube channel. 

For more information and to get involved visit www.youthsporttrust.org/AfterSchoolSportClub