Christ’s Hospital pupils coach at football festival for people with learning difficulties

Fifteen pupil sports ambassadors from Christ’s Hospital School spent a day last month at the picturesque Friends of Arundel Castle Cricket Ground assisting, officiating and coaching in a football festival for adults with learning disabilities.

The event at Arundel took place on the cricket ground that was created by Henry, 15th Duke of Norfolk way back in 1895. The outfield that has, in the past, been graced by many world famous cricketers, was generously given over for the day to allow this most worthwhile football tournament to take place. There were over 100 participants at the event organised by Matt Swanson the Deputy Manager of Aldingbourne Country Centre, one of the nine care centres participating in the event.

The festival was a great success – and despite the grey clouds overhead the weather held out to help ensure that, what proved to be a very competitive and exciting tournament, was thoroughly enjoyed by all. Toby Edwards, a Year 11 CH pupil, said: “It was a thoroughly enjoyable experience and knowing that you impacted on so many peoples’ lives, in a positive way, really puts a smile on your face.”

The CH Sports Ambassadors scheme was set up 2 years ago to provide pupils with a platform to develop leadership skills, as well as a pathway into sports coaching and officiating. Part of the course is to provide the pupils with experience of working with people with learning difficulties in a sporting environment. One of the CH Sports Ambassadors, Jack Woodford, commented: “Working with such lovely and charismatic people at Arundel, was an experience that will help drive my enthusiasm for sport and has made me more determined to shape my own life to the full.”

The tournament could not have taken place without the generous support of the Director of Cricket at the Friends of Arundel Castle Cricket Club, Johnny Barclay. Christ’s Hospital’s Director of Sport, Dave Messenger, said: “It is fantastic that Christ’s Hospital pupils are able to support such a worthwhile event. There was fun and enjoyment in abundance, all wrapped up with a hefty dose of competitiveness!
“Some of the participants had severe learning difficulties and it was a delight to see how the CH pupils managed the day; our pupils certainly left Arundel having had as rich an experience as those participating from the various centres. We look forward to assisting again next year and with the cricket festival in the summer term.”

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