Monday, June 25, 2012

Dear english-speaking readers, to keep it short, this text is about the sentences: "He isn't very handsome, but has a lot of charm." and "In her youth she was a beauty." and my hope to be still alive when the day (hopefully) comes, when it will be very common to say: "She's not very pretty, but has a lot of charm." and "He was very pretty when he was young."

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Placing PE at the heart of the school, by placing the child at the heart of our Curriculum

Ronnie Heath, a former Head of PE, established Create Development in 2008 to engage and inspire young people in and through PE and Sport. He has been a winner of ‘Outstanding Achievement in Coach Education for London’, ‘England’s Basketball Coach of the Year’ and National Trainer for sports coach UK.

He will provide a keynote speech at the Mid and West Wales and South Central PESS consortia conference in June. But what should we expect?

Are we preparing children for the society we grew up in and know, or modern society or.... the future world?

What lessons have we learned from our previous practice? We top the list for ‘worst experience at school’ whilst a huge proportion of young people instead of being inspired by PE, are put off by it. Do we teach Sport, PE, the child, Megan? David? or dreams?

Why is PE essential, and what do we do better than any other subject? How can it make such a major impact on broader, emotional, learning and life skills? Can we, do we model the skills, qualities and abilities we expect of the young people we work with? Does our provision meet the outcomes we claim to be able to meet?  If we present and package ourselves well we can align very comfortably with the expectations of ESTYN and see our subject elevated to the highest status.

We are frequently judged on how well explain what we do. We will explore how we communicate better to the community, governors, senior management, parents and pupils about what PE is about and what we can achieve together. It will involve changes in our language and approach, celebrating the positive better and accepting the mistakes of our predecessors. 

Does our curriculum try and squeeze and chisel the young people into our existing programmes or is our provision broad and flexible enough to meet the needs of all individuals? Let’s explore what the future of PE might look like.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

...a post about the campground of  Erlangen, where the biggest german Comic-festival takes place every two years. It was closed this year, so I wrote down my memories of the campground-guard, who didn't like students and thought they were all too stupid to put glass-bottles in the right container. We miss him!

Celebrating 40 Years of the Sport Wales National Centre (Part 1) - Nick Lia

On 12 June 1972 Her Royal Highness, Princess Anne, officially opened the National Sports Centre for Wales. Today marks the 40th anniversary of a superb facility - that has seen countless Welsh sports heroes pass through it's halls - that we now know as the Sport Wales National Centre. Nick Lia, Operations Manager, has worked in the Centre from the very beginning. In this first of a two-part blog he shares just a few of his fond memories over the years. 

Nick Lia, Sport Wales National
Centre Operations Manager
I should imagine that I am the only member of staff who went to the grand opening weekend of the Sport Wales National Centre, then named the National Sports Centre for Wales. This took place 40 years ago on the weekend of 30 October 1971.

In fact, my memories of this place start even earlier than that. In 1970 I was a 17-year-old, wet behind the ears Police Cadet stationed at the police HQ in Cathays Park and we used to have marching practise every Friday morning in the castle grounds.

The Sport Wales National Centre
As we marched on the path alongside the Taff, I could see the steel skeleton of a huge building being built but did not know what it was at the time. Little did I know then what that steel skeleton would become and what the future would hold for me amongst its walls!
The opening weekend was a revelation to me. The building seemed massive and, along with apparently thousands of visitors squeezing past each other in the corridors, there were displays of gymnastics, weightlifting, swimming and trampolining to amaze us all.

The trampolining was in the Lower Gym, now squash courts one and two. The weightlifting area was adjacent to this gym, now changing room five. The original squash courts three and four are now the CV Room and Bute Suite meeting room. The shooting range became the free weights room, the lecture theatre is now the home of Disability Sport Wales and Registry and the bar is now the Taff Suite meting room. These are just some of the structural changes which have taken place over the years.

The original internal decor was also very eye catching and probably based on the en vogue colour schemes of that era. Orange, purple and green walls and carpets were everywhere – really lovely! Reception was a small island affair which you could walk behind with plush orange and green bench seating and soft chairs either side for people to sit and relax.

As an aspiring hammer thrower, the NSCW was I thought, going to be a wonderful place to train especially compared to my usual training haunt, the rundown and somewhat dilapidated facilities of the old Maindy Athletic Stadium in Cathays. What really interested me was the fact that the grass pitch was then designated as an athletic throwing area for hammer, discus and shot with circles and cages at the top end of the pitch.

All manner of sports are catred for at the SWNC 

If my memory serves me right I think I paid 10p to enter on this weekend and for sentimental reason kept the ticket safe for about ten years as a memento before deciding not to keep it any longer. Shame really - I regret doing so now as it would have been a collector’s item which I could have put on ebay!

I have seen many changes to the building fabric over the years both inside and out – far too many to mention. The building and external areas are almost unrecognisable compared to 40 years ago and have evolved into this wonderful sporting facility we have today.

No doubt there will be further changes to the building in the years to come but whatever they are and whatever the policies of the day will be I’m sure this place will continue to be at the heart of Welsh sport and long may it do so.

The Sport Wales National Centre is the home of Sport Wales. Follow @sport_wales on Twitter for all the latest sports news and developments in Wales. 

Celebrating 40 Years of the Sport Wales National Centre (Part 2) - Nick Lia

On 12 June 1972 Her Royal Highness, Princess Anne, officially opened the National Sports Centre for Wales. Today marks the 40th anniversary of a superb facility - that has seen countless Welsh sports heroes pass through it's halls - that we now know as the Sport Wales National Centre. Nick Lia, Operations Manager, has worked in the Centre from the very beginning. In this second installment of a two-part blog he shares just a few of his fond memories over the years.

Nick Lia, Sport Wales National
Centre Operations Manager

Thinking back over 40 years of the history of SWNC, or the National Sports Centre for Wales as was known originally, it’s not easy picking out major events and experiences as there are so many of them during this time.

I can remember visiting the Centre on its opening weekend; 30 Oct 1971 and the masses of people in the building who, like me, were looking in fascination at the facilities on offer and the various sporting demonstrations on display.

I started working at the Centre in Sept 1973 as a lifeguard having walked through the doors two weeks previously asking if there were any jobs going - luckily there were. To give you an idea of what we earned in those days my hourly rate was 50p per hour with an extra 2p on top for my lifesaving and first aid qualifications! More importantly were the prices in the cafeteria, as you could buy tea or coffee for 2p a cup and lunch or dinner could be bought for 10p – scandalous!

The modern day Sport Wales National Centre
For those who have a passion for sport like myself it was a fantastic place to work then and it is still as true today. As the centre was a unique place in the early 70’s I remember lots of visitors coming to look around and be amazed at what we had to offer.

Membership of the Centre was a prized possession as many more people applied for membership then we could manage – over 10,000 at one stage. For the first few years membership was renewed on 1 April and had to be done in person. I remember coming to work at 7am and the queue was already several hundred metres long and stretched all the way from reception down and along the access road – an amazing sight. Fortunately for members and reception staff a rolling membership scheme was introduced which made queuing a thing of the past.

It was soon clear to the Sport Wales hierarchy that the Centre facilities could not cope with the demand from athletes and members and plans were made to extend the Centre. I can still remember the JCB cutting the first sod in the rear lawn to start the building works. I was there at the time to remove the washing line which was in the way. How very different things were then!

The new extension was opened in 1977 and on the ground floor facilities included; the side reception, toilets, the multipurpose Lower Hall, plant room two and new weights room.

On the way to the second floor were changing rooms and offices; very much as they are today with the Jubilee Hall and another changing room above.

A landmark event in 1979 was the installation of the first artificial turf pitch in Wales. Prior to the start of this work on a cold foggy day in February the line of elm trees which flanked the side of the Dri-pla pitch were felled due to Dutch Elm disease and I can remember them crashing onto the now redundant surface as they were felled one by one.

Sadly, it was not too long after the opening ceremony in July that disaster struck. Just after Christmas Day in 1979, and after many days of heavy rain, the river Taff broke its banks and flooded many acres of land around the river including the new pitch and Centre. The pitch was ruined, as the carpet pile filled with silt and mud, while the Centre was under two foot of water. The Centre was closed for about six months while facilities dried out and were repaired but the pitch took much longer to clean and was never the same again.

The installation of a Health Suite was a major innovation in the late eighties. Situated on the first floor and converted from three changing rooms it offered a spa bath, Turkish room, sauna, sunbeds, relaxation area and fitness testing.

Another major incident took place in the early nineties. The multipurpose Lower Hall was converted to a specialist Gymnastic Hall in 1992. A few years later however a fire started there and caused major damage to the equipment in the hall and nearby corridors.

There have been lots of structural changes to the building over 40 years. Far too many to mention. The building's infrastructure has been improved and updated many times, as has the need to keep up with equipment changes to meet new technical specifications.

The National Judo Centre at the SWNC
The most recent and significant change has been the removal of the swimming pool and the creation of the National Judo Centre and above it, the national Centre for Elite Athlete Support. These are fantastic facilities with the latter providing top class support facilities for elite athletes. It does what it says on the tin!

At the heart of the building and its facilities however are the staff and people who make this place tick and I have met many famous people who have visited the Centre. The slide show that Chris Bonnington gave of his exploits of climbing Everest and K2 was a sell out in the Main Hall in the 70’s. Jonah Barrington (the most successful British squash player ever) played in a tournament here in that decade and Chinese table tennis players and Russian gymnasts performed in the Main Hall – rare excursions into the West in those days. These are only a few of the best who have passed through our doors and I’m sure there will be plenty more to come.

A few famous sportsmen also worked here as development Officers in the 70’s and 80’s, namely Lyn 'the Leap' Davies, and Gerald Davies – the Welsh Rugby winger. Later, Nigel Walker, the Olympic hurdler and Welsh Rugby star was also a Development Officer here. Not forgetting (legendary Olympic gold medal winning showjumper) Sir Harry Llewellyn, our first Chairman. Lyn Davies often teased Sir Harry that while he won his Olympic gold medal in show jumping on four legs, Lyn won his on two!

It is difficult to condense nearly 40 years of memories into a few paragraphs as there are so many personal stories and incidents that could be shared. Suffice it to say that working here has been a fantastic and rewarding experience, both from a career and also a personal point of view. How fortunate I was to have been given the opportunity to progress from Lifeguard to Head Groundsman to Operations Manager.

The support given by colleagues over the years has been invaluable and having worked with many of the Ops team for longer than I care to remember I am proud to say that I have grown old with some of them. Amazingly, the average length of service for the 13 members of Operations is about 22.5 years. It has nothing to do with their manager, it’s just a great place to work!

The Sport Wales National Centre is the home of Sport Wales. Follow @sport_wales on Twitter for all the latest sports news and developments in Wales. 

Gweithio mewn Partneriaeth â’r Urdd - Kathryn Thomas

Mae Chwaraeon Cymru wedi lawnsio £250,000 o byddsoddiad i mewn i'r Urdd i sicrhau bod miloedd mwy o blant a phobol ifanc yn gwirioni ar chwaraon am oes. Dyma agwedd Uwch Swyddog Chwaraeon Cymru, Kathryn Thomas, sydd yn gweithio'n agos gyda Adran Chwaraeon yr Urdd.  

Yr Urdd yw’r mudiad ieuenctid mwyaf yng Nghymru gyda mwy na 50,000 o aelodau. Mae Chwaraeon Cymru wedi gweithio mewn partneriaeth â’r Urdd ers nifer o flynyddoedd ar ei raglen chwaraeon cymunedol. Mae wedi cael canlyniadau rhagorol ac wedi tynnu sylw at y galw cynyddol am ddarparu cyfleoedd chwaraeon drwy gyfrwng y Gymraeg.

Yng ngoleuni hyn, a gyda lansiad diweddar Strategaeth Chwaraeon Cymunedol y sector, sydd ag amcan o gael pob plentyn i wirioni ar chwaraeon am oes, mae Chwaraeon Cymru yn credu’n gryf bod yr Urdd yn bartner arwyddocaol wrth iddo geisio cyrraedd y nod hwn. Gyda’i rwydwaith cynyddol o Swyddogion Datblygu Chwaraeon, hyfforddwyr a gwirfoddolwyr, yn ystod y flwyddyn sydd i ddod bydd cyfleoedd ar lefelau amrywiol yn cael eu cynnig ym mhob un o’r 22 awdurdod lleol ledled Cymru.  

Y nod yw darparu cyfleoedd mewn amrywiaeth o chwaraeon yn yr holl grwpiau oedran. Bydd safon y sesiynau a’r clybiau’n amrywio er mwyn darparu ar gyfer pob gallu, a bydd cyswllt cynyddol â Chyrff Rheoli Cenedlaethol yn sicrhau bod cyfleoedd i blant symud ymlaen ar hyd y llwybr chwaraeon.                      

Mae’r targedau sydd wedi’u gosod yn uchelgeisiol iawn - 1300 o wirfoddolwyr a hyfforddwyr i sefydlu clybiau newydd a datblygu adrannau newydd mewn clybiau presennol; sefydlu 60 o glybiau newydd yn cynnig chwaraeon penodol a 68 o glybiau aml-chwaraeon newydd – a bydd y rhain i gyd ar wahân i gynnal a chadw’r clybiau presennol y ceir bron i 100 ohonynt mewn pocedi bychain ar hyd a lled Cymru. Ceir hefyd y 42,000 o blant a phobl ifanc y mae’r Urdd am eu cynnwys drwy gyfrwng ei strwythur cystadlu.     

Fel y swyddog sy’n gweithio gyda’r Urdd, rydw i wedi gweld yn uniongyrchol sut mae’r Urdd yn gweithio ag ysgolion, timau datblygu chwaraeon yr awdurdodau lleol a Chyrff Rheoli Cenedlaethol er mwyn creu cyfleoedd newydd nad oedd yn bodoli o’r blaen. Mae rhai’n ystyried gwaith yr Urdd fel dyblygiad ond, gyda clybiau’n llawn a cheisiadau aml am sesiynau ychwanegol, mae’n amlwg bod galw heb ei fodloni’n bod.

Mae’r targedau sydd wedi’u gosod ar gyfer y flwyddyn sydd i ddod yn uchelgeisiol a dweud y lleiaf, ond gyda brand cryf, enw da am gyflwyno, profiad, angerdd a gwybodaeth y staff, a’r galw cynyddol am yr iaith Gymraeg, maen nhw’n siŵr o gael eu cyrraedd.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Working in Partnership with the Urdd - Kathryn Thomas

Sport Wales has today announced a landmark £250,000 investment into the Welsh language youth organisation, the Urdd, to ensure thousands more children and young people get hooked on sport for life. We hear from Sport Wales Senior Officer, Kathryn Thomas, who works closely with the Urdd's Sport Department.

The Urdd is the largest youth organisation in Wales with a growing membership of over 50,000. Sport Wales has worked in partnership with the Urdd over a number of years on their community sports programme, which has demonstrated excellent results and has highlighted the growing demand for sporting opportunities to be provided through the medium of Welsh.

In light of this, and with the recent launch of the sectors Community Sport Strategy with the aim of getting every child hooked on sport for life, Sport Wales strongly believe the Urdd is a significant partner in striving to achieve this end goal. With their growing network of Sports Development Officers, coaches and volunteers, over the forthcoming year opportunities of varying levels will be offered in each of the 22 local authorities across Wales.

The aim is to provide opportunities in a range of sports across all age groups. Sessions and clubs will be of varying standards to cater for all abilities, and the increased links with National Governing Bodies will ensure there are opportunities for youngsters to progress through the sporting pathway.

The targets set are very ambitious - 1300 volunteers and coaches to start up new clubs and develop new sections within existing clubs; the establishment of 60 new sport specific clubs and 68 new multi sport clubs – all of which are separate to the maintenance and sustainability of the existing clubs of which there is close to 100 in small pockets across Wales. There is also the 42,000 children and young people the Urdd want to engage through their competition structure.

As the officer working with the Urdd, I have seen first-hand how the Urdd works collaboratively with schools, local authority sports development teams and National Governing Bodies to create new opportunities that previously didn’t exist. Some consider the work of the Urdd as duplication however with clubs at capacity and frequent requests for additional sessions, there is clearly unmet demand.

The targets set for the forthcoming year are ambitious to say the least, but with the strong brand, the reputation to deliver, the experience, passion and knowledge of the staff, and the growing demand for the Welsh language they are sure to be achieved.


Every day this week, Sport Wales has been on hand with top tips to encourage you to get active with your family…
London 2012 is just around the corner and while you might not fancy yourself as the next sporting great, there’s no better time to be inspired to get involved.

41.       Organise your own family Opening and Closing Ceremony dance routines - all that fancy footwork will burn off some energy and stop the kids getting bored in the school holidays.

42.       And talking of Opening and Closing Ceremonies, get younger children and their friends together to make flags and march around the garden or park. They can each adopt a nation.

43.       Make a big medal table and display it in the house. Update the results for everyone involved in your sporty challenges to keep everyone motivated

44.       Hula hoops are often overlooked. But they’re cheap, fun to use and there’s so much you can do with them. From seeing how long they can keep it going round their waist, to rolling and catching it before it falls, skipping with it, to throwing it. rab a hoop and join in!

45.       It’s important to showcase that sport is for all, no matter what challenges you face. Encourage your children to watch the Paralympics and they are sure to be inspired! For more information on opportunities for the disabled, contact the friendly folk at Disability Sport Wales.

46.        Haven’t got tickets for the Games? Then opt for sporting events in Wales like the Welsh Athletics International on July 18th at Cardiff International Sport Stadium.

47.       Wales has a strong history of producing first class sprinters like Christian Malcolm. So celebrate by inviting the neighbours over and running relay races.

48.       Dig out and dust off the rollerblades – they provide a great workout!

49.       For the first time ever, Wales is sending two boxers to the Olympics – try out boxercise in the garden. You’ll soon all be burning the calories!

50.   Or maybe you prefer to get your kicks out of judo? Find your nearest club here

And remember to look out for Come and Try sport sessions within your local authority or why not go along to your local sports club. For more information, just contact the sport of your choice!

Remember to check out our other blogs this week for all 50 tips!

Thursday, June 7, 2012


Every day this week until Friday, Sport Wales will be on hand with top tips to encourage you to get active with your family…
London 2012 is just around the corner and while you might not fancy yourself as the next sporting great, there’s no better time to be inspired to get involved.

31.        Make like Andy Murray and organise a family tennis tournament. Remember to reward yourselves with some strawberries afterwards

32.       If you have family members with disabilities, there’s no reason why you can’t undertake activities together. There’s an increasing number of clubs offering inclusive opportunities – contact Disability Sport Wales for more information

33.       Croquets sets are often to be found on the supermarket shelves at this time of year. It’s perfect for a spot of garden fun

34.       Inspired by Usain Bolt, then set up a finishing line and get racing! Record times with a stopwatch to encourage the kids to beat their personal best

35.       Beach Volleyball is a relatively young Olympic sport, making its full debut in Atlanta 1996. Since then its popularity has rocketed and it looks to be a crowd favourite at London 2012. Get yourself a net and pack it in the car for beach trips!

36.       Wales’ rhythmic gymnast Frankie Jones is set to compete in Wembley Arena from 9 August. Encourage your family to watch and cheer her on. Make sure there are hula hoops and ribbons on standby – they’ll be revved up to have a go themselves

37.       Come London 2012, prepare to be dazzled by the athletes in the trampolining. Trampolines are a firm fixture many a garden these days. The family will be keen to show off their acrobatic excellence! To fin your nearest club, contact Welsh Gymnastics.

38.       Expose your children to a wide variety of sports this summer. Watching different sports – whether it’s hockey, sailing or badminton or something else – your children will be inspired by an activity. Capture their interest and get in touch with the sport’s governing body to find your nearest club!

39.       Why not set up a garden treasure hunt? Make a map and lead clues to the treasure. Or design an obstacle course – they could weave through buckets, limbo under a pole and leap over a sandpit. Give it a London 2012 theme and make medals the treasure

40.   A fun family activity for toddlers and younger school children is animal magic - see who can hop like a bunny, walk like a spider, stretch like a cat or run like a monkey.
And remember to look out for Come and Try sport sessions within your local authority or why not go along to your local sports club. For more information, just contact the sport of your choice!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012


Every day this week until Friday, Sport Wales will be on hand with top tips to encourage you to get active with your family…
London 2012 is just around the corner and while you might not fancy yourself as the next sporting great, there’s no better time to be inspired to get involved.

21.       Children aged between 3 and 7 should be introduced to games and activities that make them huff and puff! There are loads of games and ideas on the Sport Wales Play to Learn website to get you off to a flying start

22.       Suggest family and friends adopt an athlete or a nation to help them take an interest in all things London 2012

23.       Cricket might not be in the Olympics or Paralympics yet but don’t let that stop you! Kwik-cricket is perfect for sunny days

24.       Little ones love storytime, but they’re not just for bedtime or quiet time. Get them acting out the actions to stories. Going on a Bear Hunt is perfect for this and Sport Wales have even developed stories that contain plenty of opportunities to develop movement skills like hopping, crawling and jumping. Interactive versions of the stories are available on  or you can buy the specially designed books at

25.       Organise fun days out that involve exercise. Try family bike rides or trips to the swimming pool. If you’re looking for something a bit different, find your nearest ice rink or climbing wall

26.       Five out of the 12-strong British table tennis Paralympic team are Welsh! So why not try your hand at counter-smashes and drop shots. It’s a great family-friendly sport

27.       A large pavement-type area is ideal for an outdoor obstacle course. Together, chalk out imaginative obstacles such as hurdles, rowing boats and Olympic rings to form an obstacle course for your children. The first person to successfully make it entirely through the course is the winner.

28.       Celebrate the fact that Olympic football will be coming to the Millennium Stadium and challenge the kids to a ‘keepy-uppy’ competition or to a penalty shoot-out

29.      Organise a beach trip or barbecue at the park and incorporate a trek into the trip

 30.   Pack a Frisbee in your picnic hamper
And remember to look out for Come and Try sport sessions within your local authority or why not go along to your local sports club. For more information, just contact the sport of your choice!