An opportunity to try sport for the very first time!

An opportunity to try sport for the very first time!

Ninety Derby College students who have arrived in the UK during the past year, many as refugees or asylum seekers, have taken part in an exciting initiative to give them access to new sporting experiences.

The event, organised by Derby College in collaboration with Moorways Sports Village and Water Park, Derby County Community Trust and Derby County Cricket Club, gave many of the students the opportunity to try swimming, and a number of other sports, for the very first time!

The students are all part of the College’s Lexis programme, a full-time course for 16- to 18-year-olds who may arrive in the country during the course of the year or who have relocated during the year. The aim of the programme is to help students improve their English and gain qualifications to enable them to progress to further education or employment.

The event, which took place on Friday 17th February, offered Lexis students the chance to experience a number of sporting activities, including swimming, football, cricket and virtual spinning.

The objective was to create a fun, interactive experience with lots of support, particularly for those who had never been in a pool before. For cultural reasons the organisers needed to arrange different swimming sessions for the male students and female students, and also to ensure they provided opportunity for daily prayer sessions. Many students didn’t own swimwear, so the team at Moorways kindly provided the appropriate kit to enable everyone to take part.

Jane Sandall, Lexis Mentor at Derby College, explained how the event came about: “During one-to-one sessions with the students, I got to find out about their sporting experiences before they came to the UK. While some of the students were avid swimmers – a number had even represented their country of origin at competition level – others had never swum at all. Some had also had traumatic experiences around water during their journey to the UK. We decided to organise the day to enable the students to try a variety of different sports, including swimming, in a safe and friendly environment.

“The initiative has had such a positive impact. It was wonderful to see the students enjoying themselves, forming new friendships and supporting each other. In particular, I was privileged to see so many young ladies have the opportunity to feel relaxed enough to try swimming for the first time. There was a lot of anxiety and “I’m not doing that”, turning into “why not just sit on the edge and dip your toes in“ to “I think I’ll try” all the way to “I’m getting in”. To see all the beaming faces was wonderful and the squeals of delight will stay with me forever. The feedback we’ve had from everyone involved has been amazing and we are looking forward to arranging further sessions in the future.”

Following on from the success of the day, Derby College is working with staff from other agencies to plan further sports sessions, including use of the outdoor facilities at Moorways Sports Village.

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