06/06/2011 - I thought it would at least another 15 years before I started to say things like, “I remember back when I was at school.”
My glorious days at Wendon Primary School in the 80s were filled with Bull-rush (I still have nightmares about trying to stop Sean Hurley in full flight), rugby (no rippa or touch – only full contact tackle), force-back and, in summer, tip-and-run cricket. To keep on-side with Stu Riordan, I should also point out it provided an excellent educational grounding as well.
Kids these days (another phrase I thought was a decade or two away) have so many options – sporting, culturally and academically. I’m not about to descend into a misty-eyed reminisce about how much better it was in the good ol’ days, tempting as that may be. Instead, I’ll focus on what Cycling Southland is doing to add to these options. We have been part of two initiatives which we’ve kicked off over the last couple of months which I’m really excited about.
The first is a “learn-to-bike” programme which is being delivered with assistance from our mates at Sport Southland via KiwiSport. Along with the Southland Mountain-bike and BMX clubs and Police, we are piloting an eight week programme across seven schools and the results and feedback has been outstanding. Children who have never pedalled a bike in their lives are riding unassisted within the very first session. The beaming faces are truly something very special. Our ultimate aim, once we successfully pilot the programme and tweak it as we go, is to see this rolled out across all of Southland. It’s a great first taste of our sport for local school children and just like swimming, running, jumping and throwing, it is a fundamental skill that we believe all Southland children should master. Plus we might uncover a few new Tom Scullys or Eddie Dawkins in the process.
Secondly, we have successfully added cycling to the NCEA curriculum. Every Year 12 Physical Education class is able to do a “performance” standard and earn credits towards NCEA Level Two. A performance standard is slightly different to other assessments in that students are graded against a national standard of excellence. With a world-class facility at our disposal, a standard based on times recorded at the last five National Age Group Track Championships has been developed, and now cycling is accredited with NZQA as a performance standard.
That means students can attend six weeks of coached sessions during school time at the ILT Velodrome, culminating in a trials day from which students can choose either sprint (500 metre time trials), Endurance (2km Pursuit) or, if they are really keen, both to test their skills, speed and fitness.
Already five schools are visiting us each week and we’d welcome more.
And finally, we start a new series of Ladies Nights for women beginner cyclists next week. We’re hosting three fun and information-filled sessions starting on June 12th. To find out more phone Cycling Southland or visit cyclingsouth.org.nz.
Nick Jeffrey is Chief Executive of Cycling Southland