Hampshire school makes Olympic effort to keep pupils active at home

Ballard School instituted its own Virtual Lockdown Games 2020, with events ranging from push-ups to ‘how many tea bags can you throw into a mug in a minute?’

A school in Hampshire has come up with a novel response to the twin setbacks of having their regular physical education lessons put on hold and the Tokyo Olympics being postponed until next year.

Ballard School instituted its own Virtual Lockdown Games 2020, with everyone from the youngest reception pupils to year 11 seniors enjoying a fortnight of remote competition.

Circumstances dictated that pursuing official Olympic sports was never going to be practicable. Instead, pupils and their families spent 8-21 June engaged in 12 challenges such as bottle flipping, kick-ups, push-ups, toilet roll catching, ‘how many tea bags can you throw into a mug in a minute?’ and ‘how many t-shirts can you put on in 60 seconds?’.

Pupils were allowed to attempt each ‘sport’ as many times as they liked, with the events designed to test endurance, accuracy, balance, coordination and skill, in a domestic environment and requiring minimal equipment.

“It has been wonderful to see the energy and enthusiasm with which the pupils have thrown themselves into the Virtual Lockdown Games – not to mention their parents and teachers, too!” said headmaster, Andrew McCleave.

“I commend the sports department for finding such a fun way to support the children to stay active and healthy at home, and to bring the community together as well.”

“I commend the sports department for finding such a fun way to support the children to stay active and healthy at home, and to bring the community together as well” – Headmaster of Ballard School, Andrew McCleave

More than 400 entries were submitted for the various challenges, with points for each pupil added to an aggregate score for their respective houses.

“The sheer volume of entries from the Wilverley and Holmsley Houses in the final few days of the competition allowed them to create a gap far too big for Setthorns – our opening leaders – and Broadley to close down,” said director of sport, Justin Whitbread.

“Well done to our champions, Holmsley, whose podium finishes allowed them to accelerate convincingly to the top of the scoreboard to be crowned champions of the Lockdown Games 2020.”

Whether the event will return in a post-pandemic world was not clear at press time.

The Virtual Lockdown Games were by no means Ballard’s only attempt to keep pupils healthy and entertained during the enforced absence from the school’s sports facilities.

Another sports teacher, Daniel Winch, instigated Fit 4 Five, a series of workout videos instructing younger students in exercises deploying such household items as tins of beans, chairs, brooms and tennis balls. Pupils were also invited to share their own home workout videos.

Ballard School recently received the School Games Mark by Youth Sport Trust, in recognition of “ongoing commitment and achievement in the school games programme during the autumn and spring terms”.


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