Sport is the common language

by Ella Ferguson, Development Manager – YST Leaders

Young person wearing young leader t-shirtThis year, 2017, we wanted to develop a training programme that would increase social cohesion and grow an appreciation, between young people, of different cultures, languages and religions. So far this year we have delivered three English as an Additional Language (EAL) Leadership training events for over 150 young people in Suffolk, Gloucester and Wolverhampton.

The training uses sport as a common language and a vehicle to support young people to learn leadership skills that they can use in school and their local community. The training focused on developing communication and teamwork skills as well as the practical skills to be able to lead activity for others. Every aspect of the training was practical allowing young people to experience working with new people and building their confidence in a social setting.

Following the training the young leaders have gone on to run their own clubs, become engaged in PE lessons and take part in community activities, as well as become more confident around school to communicate with adults and peers. It has been such an inspiring project and a clear reminder, as we reflect on PE, school sport and physical activity in National School Sport Week, of the power that sport can have to break down barriers, nurture skills such as leadership and develop confidence.

Danny Burton, Director of Community Sport, King Edward VI School, is one of the school leads who has run EAL Leadership Training in partnership with us this year.

“Following Brexit, we have seen an increase in the amounts of racism displayed within schools – this event is the start of a powerful movement to remove these stereotypes, and give students the confidence to contribute within their communities.”

“The skills developed throughout the conference will allow these students to access leadership and volunteering opportunities within their own contexts; whether this is within their school, or in their local communities.”

“Via the use of the ‘Global Languages’ (Sport, Dance, Music and The Arts) – students can be empowered to collaborate whatever their background, culture, religion or primary spoken language is. Here at King Edward VI School, we feel passionate about this concept and it has been a privilege to work alongside the Youth Sport Trust to communicate this message beyond our school across the county.”

Some of the young people  who attended the sessions shared their thoughts too:

“I have enjoyed making new friends within school and out of school – it is great to hear and opportunity like this is being made available to students, who like me had very little confidence speaking English.”

“Being given opportunities to get involved in student leadership projects has given me a real confidence boost and has helped me develop my communication in everyday life.”

When I arrived in England I had no support from anyone and being typically stereotyped as a girl they think that I wouldn’t be able to learning quick enough. I’m proud to say I learnt it within a month alongside some great friends. I hope this gives motivation to others like me and really gives out a strong message that people do care. 

Larisa Ungureanu, Year 11, Romanian

The event today has changed my views on leadership – I did not have the confidence to speak in front of others before today. It was great to meet so many other students who shared the same feelings. I am now really looking forward to getting involved in some volunteering. 

Rodrigo Barata, Year 7, Portuguese 

I was very nervous about being selected for this leadership training – but I loved it! Me and my friends are now thinking of trying to organize some visits to local primary schools to help others who struggle due to language barriers. 

Debora Alcobia, Year 8, Portuguese

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