Edinburgh College and Spartans inspire youngsters with football

Edinburgh College has teamed up with Spartans Community Football Academy to give students new skills and confidence through the power of sport. Using the beautiful game as a learning tool, students are building core and essential skills through a partnership with Spartans.

The students are on the Entry to Sport course, which supports young people who may find it hard to make the transition to adult life. It equips them with the personal, social, literacy, life and employability skills that will enable them to move on in their lives and progress to further studies or employment.

The new Spartans link uses football as a method to help the students develop in these areas. The idea is that the sports and football theme, which includes practical activities, is a fresh way of gaining the skills and knowledge usually delivered in a traditional classroom setting.

Working with staff from the college and the Spartans Community Football Academy, the students undertake a series of football-related challenges, projects and activities, including football training sessions and other practical tasks. The learning and assessment plans match the regular core skills classes – in communications, ICT and numeracy – but with content themed around sport and topical sporting events and news.

Classes are delivered at the college and the Spartans Community Football Academy, where the students are enveloped in football culture and do their football training. Practical football sessions with Spartans coaches help them develop their teamwork and confidence.

The course culminated in a challenge match between the students’ team – Edinburgh College Eagles – against Spartans Connections, Spartans’ disability team. The students planned and organised the game themselves. The hard-fought match was won by Spartans Connections.

Lecturer David Hiddleston, who set up the course, said: “We wanted to try something a bit different, to expand how we reach different groups of students. We thought there were so many lessons they could learn from sport, which we could deliver in a fun, accessible, challenging and rewarding way. It’s been more successful than we could have hoped and the students have been absolutely inspired by working with Spartans. They’re really motivated to learn and all of them have shown significant improvements in their core and essential skills, with teamwork, timekeeping and employability all increasing massively.

“Spartans have been amazing. They’ve really understood and bought into what we’re trying to do, and have thrown themselves into this. Football and sport can be such an inspiring influence in young people’s lives in so many ways and this project is showing just how positive a force it can be.”

Garry Betts of Spartans Connections said: “We’re delighted to work in partnership with Edinburgh College. The more links we can make in north Edinburgh to make our community better is in all our interests. The Entry to Sport project is a fantastic idea – we hope that it will continue each year and other projects can spring from it.

“It was a great learning experience for us as much as the college. Let’s hope that we can continue to grow together in the future.”

Sky Sports’ Living for Sport initiative, which supports sport in education, is supporting the project in partnership with the Youth Sport Trust. It has provided a mentor for the students – international fencer Keith Cook, whose career haul includes six Commonwealth medals, a European team bronze medal and a British Championship.

Keith said: “The Entry to Sport course has been a fantastic opportunity for everyone involved. Through sport you can learn skills that can be transferred into other areas in your life to help you unleash your potential. Sport has the ability to bring people together and show us the ups and downs. It can help us learn about mental toughness, resilience, people skills, stepping out our comfort zones, planning for success, developing ourselves and being the best we can be.”

Entry to Sport student Finn Gray said: “One of the good things about the project with Spartans is that it makes studying more like real life. We covered working as a team, time management and making up training plans.”

Back row L to R – Josh Wallace, Declan Murray, Steven Pritchard, Jay White, Ben Thomson Front row L to R – Jack Bell, Finn Gary, Robbie Anderson and Matthew Moir (Coach)

For more information on the project, go to https://entry2sport.wordpress.com or follow it on Twitter @entry2sport.