Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Dragon Multi-Skills: The final piece of the jigsaw by Julie Rotchell

Julie Rotchell is the Sport Wales manager with a remit for Skills for a Life in Sport, looking at the development of children and young people.
Here she’s explains where the new Dragon Multi-Skills and Sport resource fits into the sporting development of Welsh youngsters.

The launch of our new Dragon Multi-Skills resource and training is the final piece in the jigsaw of resources produced by Sport Wales. This resource is the follow on to our highly rated ‘Play to learn resource’ which develops the physical skills of our children from the age of three.
The methods advocated in both of these resources are about individualised learning making sure that each and every child’s needs are met and children progress and develop their fundamental movement skills in a fun and progressive way.
The resources and training are designed to encourage parents, teachers, coaches and volunteers to get involved. All resources are accessible from our online shop  and parents play to learn website; . Training is being coordinated locally through sports development teams.
So how does this new resource fit in with everything else that Sport Wales has produced so far in order to make sure that every child has the opportunity to develop their skills for a life in sport?
This diagram above illustrates how everything fits together and how the packages can be utilised in different environments. 
At Sport Wales our ambition is to get every child hooked on sport for life. In order for us to meet this ambition it is essential that every child has the opportunity to develop their physical skills. This new resource will provide the opportunity for young people to do this in a fun way that is relevant for every child. It is the stepping stone into developing sport specific skills. Our dragon package now involves Dragon Multi skills and Dragon sport.  

The Evolution of the Dragon by Jan English

Jan English is the Strategic Lead for the South East Wales Physical Education and School Sport Consortium and the title author of Dragon Multi-Skills and Sport.
Here, she talks through the development of the new concept in giving children the sporting skills to get them hooked on sport for life.

 Three years ago, Sport Wales decided to review its Dragon Sport programme to establish if it was still fit for purpose.  Dragon Sport was an extra-curricular initiative aimed at 7-11 year olds that comprised of a training course and a set of sport specific games and activities for each of the eight Dragon Sports (Athletics, Cricket, Football, Golf, Hockey, Netball, Rugby, Tennis). 
At this time Sport Wales engaged in a wide consultation including Dragon Sport Officers, local authority Sports Development Officers, National Governing Body of Sport Officers, Disability Sport Wales, teachers, advisory staff, Physical Education and School Sport (PESS) Officers, volunteers, coaches, leaders and most importantly children, to identify the strengths and weaknesses of the Dragon Sport scheme.  The consultation highlighted many strengths but also some key weaknesses particularly from the children’s perspective.  They wanted more say in what they did and how they did it, they wanted to be with their friends and saw extra-curricular activities as their social time.
At the same time the PESS project had just launched ‘Play to Learn’, a curricular, extra-curricular, community and family approach aimed at enhancing the physical development of 3-7 year olds.  The approach complemented the Foundation Phase ethos adopting a child centred, holistic approach to learning.  ‘Play to Learn’ engages children in physical activity through a range of stimuli including storybooks and activities.  ‘Play to Learn’ sets out a range of FUNdamental technical skills that children should experience over time and when ready.  ‘Play to Learn’ mirrors the Foundation Phase encouraging deliverers to provide opportunities that are appropriate to each child’s stage of development not their age.
Concurrently Sport Wales was considering the future of the PESS project and again engaged in wide consultation.  As part of that consultation secondary school PE teachers reported a lack of skill for incoming pupils in year 7.  They recognised improvements in body management skills that they associated with the concentration of the PESS project on gymnastics and dance, but felt that games skills were particularly poor.  National Governing Bodies of Sport also identified this lack of skill in the Dragon Sport review.
The FUNdamental movement skills approach was gaining popularity throughout the world, building particularly on the experiences in Australia, Canada and New Zealand.  The Youth Sport Trust, Sports Coach UK and many National Governing Bodies of Sport were very keen to adopt FUNdamentals into their coaching education programmes.
As a consequence of being involved in the development of Top Sport and Dragon Sport and one of the main consultants involved in the development of ‘Play to Learn’ I was asked to look at the Multi-Skills agenda and propose a way forward.  One of the first things I did was to recommend that revisions to the Dragon Sport scheme and Multi-skills should not be considered in isolation and that they should be united under one umbrella.  I worked with a group of National Governing Body staff to establish their thoughts on this merger and their keenness to engage in a common multi-skills agenda.  This meeting was the most exciting I have ever been involved in in my 18 years involvement with Sport Wales, because I realised that there was a will to create a cultural shift to develop a consistent high quality child-centred approach to physical education and school sport.  Spurred on by this I set about developing a new vision for Dragon.
I researched existing academic perspectives on the FUNdamentals approach and reviewed over 30 FUNdamental schemes/resources and training courses from around the world.  This work helped me to identify the FUNdamental skills beyond those included in ‘Play to Learn’ and the types of activities that were appropriate and successful in developing these skills.  As I developed the resources I was conscious that if new Dragon was to be successful then it had to be an approach not just another course and set of resources. The philosophy relating to delivery was more important to me than the skills and activities. 
In addition to mapping against the national curriculum and cross referencing skills and activities to make sure I had taken the best ideas from around the world, I have to weave in an approach that would maximise the impact that these resources could have in curricular, extra-curricular, community and family settings.  All of this had to be encapsulated in a joint training course for a range of stakeholders particularly teachers and community coaches. 
The approach advocates:
-          ‘conversation coaching’ with the deliverer working with the child
-          listening to the child
-          valuing their contributions
-          including all children regardless of their ability
-          giving children increased responsibility and ownership for the own learning
-          recognising that friendship groups and positive relationships with teachers, coaches, leaders and other children are important factors to a child’s motivation
-          recognising wider skills such as thinking communication, personal, social and emotional, sporting attitudes, teamwork, leadership, alternative roles are as important to the child as the physical skills.
So Dragon Multi-Skills and Sport grew into:
-          a set of technical skills that progressed from Play to Learn and formed the ‘as they apply their skills’ level of the technical skills hierarchy,
-          a set of multi-skills inclusive activities that provide opportunities for children to use and develop their skills in a fun, small sided generic contexts
-          a set of sport specific inclusive activities and games that represent opportunities to develop their skills in a sport specific context
-          a training course that puts the child at the centre of the activity and transfers responsibility and ownership to the child
-          a common approach that is appropriate for all stakeholders and involves new ways of partnership working
As this approach begins to roll out across Wales, I hope that the ambition and vision to create a cultural shift continues and that children will feel confident to make choices and be more successful regardless of their ability, leading to increased participation, increased frequency of participation, improved performance and life-long participation that will impact positively on children in Wales’ health and well-being.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Life after London: Our Legacy in Wales

London 2012 has been special for Wales. We sent a record contingent of 68 athletes to the Olympics and Paralympics. They duly repaid us with a tremendous haul of seven medals at the Olympics (three gold, three silver and a bronze) and 15 Paralympic medals. Welsh sport is firmly on the map. Simon Grant takes a look at just where that could lead us in terms of a meaningful lasting legacy.

If ever there were a physical conduit for bringing Sport Wales’ ambitions to fruition then London 2012 is it. How many youngsters will have been hooked on sport for life after seeing Jade Jones high kick her way to an exhilarating gold medal and then bound joyously round the ExCel Arena with the Welsh flag billowing behind her and a stellar future ahead of her?

How many future champions will be inspired by the superhuman triumphs of Geraint, Tom, Hannah, Chris, Fred and Sarah? At the very least they’ll know them on first name terms after sharing in the exultation of their achievements. And what will our inspired generation have made of those who struggled on defiantly, despite injury; the Helen’s and Dai’s? They’ll surely have learnt that inherent Welsh trait of ‘never say die…Dai!’

History will be the ultimate judge but several themes have emerged as the potential legacy highpoints for Wales following these epic home Games.

Emerging Talent
The future is bright. The future is Wales. You might not know it but 18 of the 30 Welsh Olympians were making their Olympic debut and 12 of those were under the age of 23. A staggering 50% of our 38 Paralympic athletes are making their debut, including 15-year-old swimmer Morgyn Peters.

Aled Davies: Winning gold in the F42 Discus © Roger Bool   
“Essentially, these Games have shown that there is a plethora of young talent emerging, and waiting in the wings, that can and will be nurtured to ensure that we continue to see Welsh athletes standing proud on podiums at the 2014 Commonwealth Games and beyond,” says Sport Wales chair, Professor Laura McAllister.

“These have also been dubbed the ‘Girls’ Games,’ with the unprecedentedly high proportion of success coming from female athletes who, for the first time ever, competed in every event. Girls across Wales now have more inspiring role models to look up to than ever before and we hope that this can spark a chain reaction of lots more participation and enjoyment of sport.”

Finding the next tier of athletes to follow in the footsteps of our elite athletes begins now by translating the interest in the Games into mass participation at the grassroots level.

“London 2012 has undoubtedly been a huge advertising campaign for sport,” Laura adds.

“The sheer numbers of people supporting Team GB and getting into the Olympic spirit are testament to that. We’ve been working with our partners to ensure that interest has been – and continues to be – harnessed here in Wales; to ensure that any child who has been inspired by what they have seen is able to get involved in their chosen sport, and ultimately, stay hooked for life.”

Sustained Investment
Funding: Available for local legacy
Steps have already been taken to ensure that the Games are maximised in Wales with extra Lottery funding, including new Calls for Action funding which can grant awards of between £50,000 and £150,000 for projects that make a real impact in the community.

“Through our Community Sport Strategy we have already committed an additional investment of £9million from the National Lottery to help develop much wider opportunities for not just children and young people, but adults, to access both formal and recreational sport,” says Professor McAllister.

“In total this means that we will be injecting a total of almost £32m a year into community sport in Wales. We’re also in a fortunate position in that the Welsh Government are committed to our vision for sport in Wales and see London 2012 as a golden opportunity to get the nation involved.”

Quality Education
That grassroots momentum is hugely dependant on the education system and its vital role in nurturing positive first experiences of sport.

Laura adds: “We cannot underestimate the importance of schools in getting Wales’ children hooked on sport, and in particular the influence of head teachers.

“Those that embrace the importance of vibrant school sport - and are passionate about it - place sport high on the agenda, ensuring that opportunities reflect the needs of children and link with their communities and local clubs to keep them engaged once their school days are over.

School sport: Vital for positive first experiences of sport
“There are some fantastic examples of where this is working and working well but we need to see it across the board if Wales is to witness a significant increase in the numbers of young people playing sport. Whether it is through two hours of high quality PE every week, an improvement in teacher training or priority placed on developing basic skills from the earliest age, a significant shift is needed and we’re committed to making that happen.”

Our Paralympians and Olympians can deservedly bask in the glow of adulation that will undoubtedly outpour from the amassed Welsh AMs and adoring public, at the Senedd homecoming on 14 September.

They can be doubly proud of not only their own stellar achievements but also to consider themselves part of an unashamedly ambitious Welsh system that will keep building on their successes for many years to come.

For more information about Sport Wales and how to apply for Calls for Action, or any other, funding visit

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Fingerboard Obstacle Course

24 Sep 2012 Update
We are still waiting for approval from SCAPE management. If  you have any comments/suggestions on the obstacle course, you can personally come down when the course is ready and let Uncle know.

21 Sep 2012 Update
We are still awaiting for approval from SCAPE management regarding the fingerboard 'park'. Let's hope they approve it soon! 

The Fingerboard obstacle course is almost ready. Keep checking back on when you guys can officially give it a go!

Q: When will it be ready?
A: Hopefully in a week's time

Q: There is no flow to this course.
A: This 'park' is design to let as many people play on it as possible. It is not built as a flow 'park'. There will be some selfish fingerboarders who will want to hog the entire course and the non-flow system is meant to stop them from doing so.

Q: I don't think this 'park' is going to work, can i provide feedback?
A: Yes, you can give uncle feedback when the 'park' is up. For now, do not send us emails regarding this.

So keep checking back on it and hopefully you will be able to find it at GOO in a week's time! 

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Football for All by Rob Franklin

Many people have marveled at the skill level and endeavor of the football players during Paralympic competition.

But what about the opportunities available in Wales?

Rob Franklin is Regional Development Coordinator at the Welsh Football Trust and talks through the opportunities in the game in Wales.

The Welsh Football Trust currently operates three Pan-Disability league structures across Wales, (South/East, West & North) providing opportunities for all to compete from 8 years of age and beyond.

In general, our work has focused on five areas:

· Participation- to provide players with a disability the opportunities to participate in regular organised coaching and competition structures. The key aim being the development of a pan-disability football club in each local authority of Wales.

· Development of clubs and competition structures- to improve the standards of existing and new clubs through approved criteria and to develop new teams and competitions on a local, regional and national level.

· Coaches and volunteers- to recruit and develop coaches, officials and volunteers to support theorganisation and structure of disability football in Wales.

· Identification and support of talented players- to raise standards of play to support the future success of potential national disability specific teams.

· Profile and media awareness-to increase positive awareness of disability football in Wales.

Understandably, at the Paralympic Games, the 5-a-side football (blind and VI) has been popular with the public.

In Wales, players with sensory impairments are able to compete at pan-disability clubs, but there are visually impaired teams out there should this not be the right environment.  Swansea VIP’s have offered visually impaired sessions for many years and more recently (June 2012), Cardiff City and a side linked to Conwy’s Disability Sport Wales Programme have been developed (both clubs cater for juniors and adults).

While there is no specific league at the moment for those with a sensory impairment, once there are enough players attending existing clubs a games programme can be set up in Wales, which in-turn will create a player base to develop a National partially sighted and/or blind football team.

Based on the number of registered blind/partially sighted individuals and the geographical population spread we know there aren’t going to be teams in every county hence the reason we only have three hub/clubs of activity at the moment.  

So, the message is, if you want a game, go along and give it a try.

On another positive note, our first ever Welsh National Learning Disability Football Squad will come together on September 23rd & 24th. In another milestone for football in Wales, they are getting ready to play their first ever international match, versus Northern Ireland which will take place in November.

For more on Welsh Football Trust visit

Twitter @WelshFballTrust


Friday, September 7, 2012

New This Week! Fingerboard and Skateboard

Berlinwood Fingerboard Low Wide Shape @ $70 each
-Harrier Foid

Berlinwood Fingerboard Classic Shape @ $70 each
-Anker White/Gold
-Love me Arm
-BW Rasta Logo
-BW Logo Wood
-Tougui Lost Fingers
-BR Pirat

Wrinkler Fingerboard Wheels @ $67 a set
-Big Daddy'z
-Classics White
-Classics Black

Blackriver Fingerboard Ramps
-Ironrail Low Round @ $45
-Iron Pipe Low @ $48
-Iron Shotgun Low @ $48
-Ironail L Style Left @ $52
-Pole Round Red @ $40
-Pole Square Red @ $40
-Ironrail T Style Black @ $52
-Box1 @ $35
-Box2 @ $46
-Box3 @ $43
-Box 5 @ $85
-Mini Table @ $45
-Bench @ $35

Riptape Classic @ $17 a pack
First Aid Screws @ $9 a set
First Aid Bushings @ $17 a set
First Aid Lock Nuts @ $25 a set
First Aid Single Hanger @ $25 each.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

The next stroke for disability swimming by Huw Griffiths

Featuring a total of 600 athletes competing for 148 medals, swimming is the second biggest competition at the London 2012 Paralympic Games.
Huw Griffiths is the National Disability Development Officer for Swim Wales.
Here he talks about developing the next generation of swimmers, both for elite and general participation in Wales.

The big word for us in disability swimming is integration. The work we are doing now is to make sure that disability swimmers are able to swim at a traditional mainstream clubs, and alongside able bodied swimmers when they are ready to.
It happens at the highest level at the British Swimming performance centre in Swansea, and should happen at clubs throughout Wales.
Performance training for disability swimmers needs to take place at performance clubs as that’s the only way we can ensure potential is reached.
We are working with clubs to ensure that happens. Of course, for some clubs there is uncertainty because it is a new concept, but we’re working hard to bring them on board with the disability pathway and make themselves disability friendly.
There needs to be good communication from learn-to-swim providers so that those swimmers who have the potential and enthusiasm to swim with a performance club are given the opportunity to do so.
Developing Paralympic swimmers is the same as developing Olympic swimmers – they all need to go through the same path.
Last year, we saw a big step forward in Swim Wales’ attempts to highlight the aquatic pathway for swimmers with a disability. We wanted to make sure that it was clear, seamless and most of all completely integrated and follows the exact path that swimmers without a disability follow.
The first step was placing an integrated programme of events into the Swim Wales easter and summer national events. This was a way of showing all attending clubs that there was a competitive side to disability swimming – not just the Paralympics - and was the start of developing a parallel programme that could be followed.
The next stage was to restructure the squad system. In the previous years, the disability squads had been a separate entity to the non-disabled squads. As of last year the skills, regional and national squads have been integrated. This has been a success this year and illustrates how Swim Wales is leading by example to ensure that we are able to attract and retain talented swimmers and develop them for the future. We currently have six swimmers on a World Class Programme, 7 swimmers in our National Elite Squad, 5 swimmers in our Regional Squads and 3 swimmers in our Regional Skills Squad.
Another key for us is finding the hidden talent that is out there in schools and learn-to-swim sessions throughout the country. Primary schools are important because it is important we identify the next generation of swimmers early enough to be able to give them that grounding in the sport.
Follow Swim Wales disability development on Twitter @SWDisability