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Looking at positive ways to prevent anti-social behaviour while boosting community connections, a new football project, launched in collaboration between Solent University, Southampton and Hampshire and Isle of Wight Constabulary, has had its first fixture at Deer Park Secondary School.

9th May 2024
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In a scheme designed to promote active lifestyles and boost wellbeing, secondary schools in Southampton are invited to come together for flag football training sessions and fixtures, supported by student volunteers from Solent.

Dr Dominic Cunliffe, Head of Sport and Health, says:

“Sport is a powerful tool for community-building, and the impacts on physical and mental wellbeing are many and varied. As a university committed to our civic duty, taking part in projects like these are essential, and we’re looking forward to recruiting more schools around the city to get involved and make a positive difference.

“It’s incredibly important for young people to have positive role models, and this project offers that to the pupils taking part, with our dedicated undergraduates stepping up to make a meaningful impact.”

Flag football is a non-contact form of American football where players remove a flag from the player carrying the ball, instead of ‘tackling’ them for it. It’s growing in popularity in England, being utilised as a positive form of exercise for young people.

This project utilises the inclusive nature of flag football to reward pupils doing well in school. It’s also an impactful preventative tool, ensuring secondary school pupils across years 8, 9 and 10 have access to a free, energy-boosting extra-curricular pursuit.

After three months of after-school training sessions led by Solent’s Sports Coaching team and supported by a cohort of 10 student volunteers studying Physical Education and Sports Coaching, students at Deer Park Secondary School and Weston Secondary School played their first fixture all in the name of good fun and exercise on Wednesday 8 May.

The players were cheered on by staff and students from Solent University, as well as colleagues from Hampshire and Isle of Wight Constabulary. Hedge End Neighbourhood Policing Team’s Dedicated Neighbourhood Officer, PC Simon Peacock, says:

“Young people are an important part of our community and I feel it is important that we (Police) and our partners invest in this community, giving secondary school students the opportunity to take part in a free sporting event representing their school. Solent University students have that practical experience to achieve in their field.

“American flag football is a growing sport in the UK that is inclusive of all genders, skill levels and fitness. Engaging young people in flag football is just another tool in our toolbox to reduce and prevent youth anti-social behaviour and crime, and increase participation in sport, thus promoting healthy living among the next generation.”

Following a successful first fixture, the project will now continue and looks to expand across the city. Deer Park Secondary School’s Director of Learning – Physical Education, Mr J Hughes, says:

“The sports coaching students from Solent University have provided a brilliant opportunity for our pupils to experience something outside of our own curriculum provision. We’ve enjoyed establishing a partnership that sees our pupils transfer skills from other topics, and receive high quality coaching from Solent students, who are growing their professional experience. We were excited to host the first fixture this week and hope to see the project reach more schools in 2025.”

Solent University welcomes interest from secondary schools in Southampton that might want to take part in this project. Visit our contact us page to get in touch.