AN OLYMPIC athlete inspired hundreds of pupils when she visited a Swindon School Sport Partnership event.
Year 3 and 4 children from Moredon Primary School, Rodbourne Cheney Primary School, Orchid Vale Primary School, Gorse Hill Primary School and Swindon Academy tried different sports at Next Generation gym, in Kembrey Park, yesterday.
Badminton star Gail Emms, who is a Youth Sport Trust ambassador, joined the children at the Sainsbury's School Games event and said she was impressed with the work that Swindon School Sport Partnership does.
“This is a great taster event for kids to try new sports. They might never have tried badminton or tennis before and if they find they enjoy it they can go on and be competitive,” she said.
“It is important for children to take part in PE so kids can learn about physical literacy.
“It’s all about movement and basic body skills and opportunities to try new sports.
“If they have a positive and healthy attitude to PE at a young age then they are more likely to carry on doing sport in later life.”
Last week, Ofsted released a report which said in some schools there was not enough physical activity in PE lessons.
Gail said: “I welcome the Ofsted report because they recommend the great work of SSPs.
“Swindon is doing a great job keeping the SSP going. PE teachers here believe PE can transform lives and we need to keep that going.”
Children tried volleyball, badminton, tennis boccia, athletics and golf as part of the day.
Andy Steckbeck, the school games organiser for Swindon School Sport Partnership, said: “This is to encourage children to try sports which are part of our school games programme.
“There was a lot in the Ofsted report about multi-skills work, which we have been doing for years.
“Children need to build their skills and confidence at school before they go out and compete.
“That is one area that Ofsted have missed. It is up for consultation and we will be feeding that back.
“We used to be funded through central government but that has been taken away.
“In Swindon, we as a partnership have continued growing.
“Through a variety of means we have managed to maintain a support network. Schools now pay us to help them out.
“More funding needs to be made available. The cuts that the Government made two years ago were just brutal.”
Among the children at the event yesterday was Tamzin Baker, eight, who is a pupil at Rodbourne Cheney Primary School.
She said: “We have been doing volleyball and badminton.
“I like sport because it’s active. I find PE fun, I always look forward to it because we do lots of different things. I like swimming best.”