Track and field athletics will be the blue ribbon event at Crystal Palace in July. And coaches and young athletes are confident of a good performance in the annual event sponsored by Balfour Beatty.
Two new initiatives have been set up - one at Saint Paul’s Academy in Abbey Wood and another, for disabled athletes, at Charlton School. Saint Paul’s have got brand new athletics facilities, which will benefit young sportsmen and women providing training in a number of disciplines. Michael Donnelly, PE teacher at Saint Paul’s, said: “As well as the indoor facilities, we’ve got a 100-metre track, an area
for shot putt, sand pit for the jumping events as well as an area for the javelin. We’ve got everything you need really.”
In addition, a disability athletics academy is being set up in Charlton and a recent £5,000 grant from the London Youth Games will be used to set up a disability athletics league among Greenwich schools.
Another league is being organised for Year 7 and 8 students at secondary schools as feeder into the Cambridge Harriers Athletics Club.
“With the two academies and the leagues I’m confident we’ll do much better in July,” said Melissa Catchpole, the 29-year-old former
county sprinter who is coaching the Greenwich teams. She added: “We’re in touch with schools to spot new talent and we’re also working closely with the local athletics club, Cambridge Harriers, so
improvement is guaranteed!” Pupil David Omardia said:
“The London Youth Games gives everyone here something to aim for. It would be a great feeling to be selected for the team. I’m going to work hard and hopefully I’ll get selected.” Chigozie Orjih added: “I’ve
been really looking forward to the athletics club and I hope that I can learn some new skills and develop my technique. I’m hoping to improve my triple jump as it’s my favourite athletics event.”
Renique Joseph said: “I think it’s a great thing that the Olympics are coming to London. It should help to inspire young people to get
involved in athletics. My dream would be to one day perform at that kind of level.”
Cllr John Fahy, the council’s cabinet member for culture and the Olympics, told GT: “This year’s London Youth Games
will be more exciting than ever as we go there to stamp our authority
as an Olympic borough. “A great place to start is in athletics and these new initiatives are just what’s needed to drive us forward.”
The Academy also hit the news with a sporting activity – Handball. Handball is a Gaelic game which is basically squash without a racket; it has featured in our sports’ curriculum for the last year and ‘England Handball’ the English team, who are the current European champions, use the Academy as their training base. For this reason, the BBC came to Saint Paul’s to see how this increasingly popular sport is making an impact in a very low cost, low maintenance sport and for these reasons can be accessed by anyone anywhere. Saint Paul’s featured several times on the BBC Breakfast Programme on Saturday 15 January and the item can still be viewed on You Tube.
About a month ago in this column I featured an U14 team from South London who had been on tour for a week in Ireland, playing gaelic games and staying with families in the Galbally area of Tyrone.
This team of young men, 75 per cent of whom are black, are largely the product of a fantastic partnership between Saint Paul's Academy and Dulwich Harps GAC.
Everyone who saw them play on that trip were impressed with their athleticism and prowess as gaelic footballers.
Last week-end they returned to Ireland to take part in the Feile Peil na nOg finals, superbly hosted this year by the Derry clubs and county board, culminating in a festival of football at Celtic Park on Sunday. The boys from south London, who were hosted by the Moneymore club in south Derry, had comprehensive victories over their hosts and Glen 'B' before encountering a tougher challenge on the way to overcoming Leitrim side Drumreilly.
In the semi-final of their competition, staged at the excellent Lissan grounds, they met Warwickshire, a team who had beaten them the previous week by seven points and, after a titanic struggle, they squeezed into the final on a scoreline of 0-9 to 0-6.
It was fantastic to see two teams from outside these shores serving up such a high standard of play, and the disappointment etched on the faces of the Warwickshire boys showed exactly what missing out on a final appearance really means to these young players.
In the final itself, Clonmel Commercials (Tipperary) asked even tougher questions of the exiles and South London's gale-assisted 0-5 to 0-2 half-time lead seemed somewhat precarious.
However, the composed defending from Captain Nathan Davies at number six and the leadership and drive of Tomi Adeloye in midfield - he scored five of their eight points - helped the London boys achieve their dream of becoming All-Ireland champions in their grade.
Great credit must go to the principal of Saint Paul's Academy , Patrick Winston, whose absolute endorsement of Gaelic Games in the school has ensured the work of Michael Donnelly and his team of mentors will continue to boost the development of our games in this part of the English capital.
Congratulations to all concerned.
Saint Paul's was once again a feature on Channel FIVE news! The role of Saint Paul's within this feature, based on the annual report from Ofsted inspectors, focused on the strategies put in place to ease behaviour management. It pointed out the effective staggered breakfast and lunch routine we have in place.
We, as stated in our prospectus, run breakfast for different classes at different times between 8.15 and 9.45am which is the timing of period one and 30mins for lunch between 12.25 and 2.10pm. Previously, students would have been sent outside for a 15 or 30-minute break each morning/afternoon all at the same time, making the playground extremely overcrowded and the likelihood of incidents far greater.
Our staggered break system enables us to reduce congestion and overcrowding whilst also reducing the demand for behavior management; having 200 students in the playground at any one time is far more manageable than a whole school of 800+ students.
These rotational breaks also bring about a calming atmosphere around the school and a reduction in any potential bullying.
To quote the report, Saint Paul's was also referred to as
one of Greenwich's success stories echoing our top position within Greenwich GCSE performance league tables.
The stars of the game are far from household names and the rules are a little hard to grasp, but an unusual sport is exercising pupils at an inner-London school.
Gaelic football has become the surprise hit at Saint Paul's academy in Greenwich, south London, where it was introduced six years ago and is now the main summer sport. It forms part of the GCSE PE curriculum.
Niall McCann, the director of sport, said:
The passion the pupils show when they play is phenomenal. "There is always a great buzz around the school when the Gaelic football season is on.
The school teams play weekend games against London clubs and 25 boys will travel to Ireland in May for a tour on the sport's home soil.