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Solent sport development students are encouraged to research a community or group in their second year – engaging with local practitioners, examining underdeveloped or niche areas and working with the community to develop a project that uses coaching, sport or physical activity to address its unique needs. In their third year, the students follow through on their plans – delivering their project in the chosen community.

Here we have selected four programmes, each with different goals, but all aimed at encouraging people to get into a sport and helping them to improve their fitness and wellbeing. Regular updates will be provided as each programme progresses.

Active in Multi Sports (AIMS)

Harvey Willis, Jack Walkett, Harry Stewart

AIMS - Harvey Willis, Jack Walkett, Harry Stewart

AIMS is a multi-sport programme targeting young people aged 14+ who have either a physical or mental disability, and who may not have as many opportunities to participate in sport.

Over eight weeks, we intend to deliver a wide variety of different sports in two schools in Southampton with a focus on fun and games. This is to give participants the best opportunity to find a sport they enjoy and can continue, either in school or outside of school. Although we can plan the structure for our sports sessions for our programme, the preferences of the participants will affect what and how we deliver.

Background information

When and where will the sessions be running?

Our project will be running for around eight weeks, starting in November, and within the Itchen and Totton areas. We have already run two pilot sessions and have received positive feedback from these:

"We thought your pilot session was fantastic. We loved the way you handled the session and the students - they love being respected but treated like other people their age. The knowledge, teamwork and genuine care you all showed was special, and we thank you for that."

What things are you looking forward to?

We're really looking forward to gaining real-life experience where we can practically implement all of the content we've been learning in lectures and seminars. This will allow us to become more rounded practitioners when it comes to getting a job in the industry.

We are considering the option of continuing our CIP as a business venture, so we're excited to see how our CIP goes and how successful our eight week intervention is.

What challenges do you think you will face during your Sport for Development project?

We think that one of the biggest challenges will be delivering sessions that cater for the needs of all participants; trying to adapt the content for each individual. We're working with two schools with divergent participant groups, so it will be challenging to make sure that both weekly sessions are planned.

Update - January 2018

What are the current developments of your CIP?

We have already finished delivery of our CIP. We were delivering in two schools for 14 weeks, which went well. We're in contact with the relevant personnel from each of the schools to discuss further employment.

What theoretical content that's been taught in lectures and seminars did you implement in the delivery of your CIP?

In terms of theoretical understanding, we spent a lot of time trying to implement monitoring and evaluation as we were working with children, so trying to get paperwork signed by the parents was difficult. However, we felt we worked well as a team to overcome this. If we were all running the session individually, it would have been a lot more difficult.

What's next for your CIP?

We're looking to turn our CIP into a social enterprise at the end of the academic year. This would involve working in the schools we've been engaging with this year and potentially expanding into more schools across Southampton. We're looking forward to seeing how this develops.


Get Involved Girls (GIG)

Connor Malone, Connor Wilshire, Lee Thomas, Enzo Russo

GIG - Connor Malone, Connor Wilshire, Lee Thomas, Enzo Russo

Get Involved Girls (GIG) intends to tackle low participation rates in girls' football within the Southampton area. The aim of GIG is to encourage young girls aged 5-11 to get more involved in physical activity by using the power of football.

GIG will aim to provide sustainable exit routes for the participants, including links to community/football clubs in their local area, with also the possibility of GIG continuing as a project within the targeted school under the control of a new group of students or through the school's own staff.

Background information

When and where will the sessions be running?

We've been delivering pilot sessions for around 12 weeks now, and we'll be delivering a few more before the official start of our project, within the next month or two. We are delivering the project in partnership with Hampshire FA and at a 3G pitch in Southampton.

What things are you looking forward to?

We're looking forward to hopefully making an impact within the community for our target population, and gaining experience ourselves as to what things work well and also what don't.

We're looking forward to enhancing our community and partnership networking within the field.

What challenges do you think you will face during your Sport for Development project?

We think that a main challenge for our project will be gaining new participants and also retaining current ones. For our pilot sessions, some weeks we've had a good number, and for others we haven't - we want to make this more consistent.

We know that we need to stay organised throughout the whole CIP process, which may be difficult at times as this year will be busy with other University work. But we're confident we can coordinate our project effectively.

Update - January 2018

What are the current developments of your CIP?

We're just in the early stages of getting the delivery of the CIP going. We've secured a start date and we're really excited to get started. We're particularly looking forward to implementing the monitoring and evaluation framework into our session to get valuable information about our CIP to enhance our understanding.

What theoretical content that's been taught in lectures and seminars are you implementing into the delivery of your CIP?

We feel that implementing theoretical content into our session will be fairly straightforward. We're going to create player profiles for our participants where the girls involved in the session will be able to complete an information booklet which will progress every week. We can then use this to gather valuable information for the monitoring and evaluation framework.

What's next for your CIP?

Our immediate aim for the CIP is to ensure that it's sustainable beyond the 12 weeks we're attending for. This may involve the organisers at our location taking it on and either running it themselves or hiring a coach to run the sessions for them. An alternative could be setting up our CIP as a social enterprise at the end of the academic year.

Update - April 2018: Evaluation phase

Having completed your CIP, what are your thoughts on the process?

As a group, we found the CIP process very beneficial as we were able to implement theory into practice and gain valuable experience working within the local community. As third year students we believe the whole experience will be very valuable in future employment. 

What were the main challenges you faced?

One of the main challenges was gaining participants during delivery. However, we have learnt a lot through our partners and participants, so we are better prepared in future.

How did you find implementing the theoretical content that has been taught in lectures and seminars?

Our group found it difficult at first as it’s quite a lot of information to take on, but the CIP is a fantastic opportunity to be put out of your comfort zone! Coming away from delivery, we appreciate the theoretical content a lot more as we have used it to understand how and why our project worked, which again will help us in future.

How do you feel the CIP will help you moving forward with your career aspirations?

The CIP will be highly beneficial when transitioning from higher education into full-time employment. The CIP isn’t just about coaching, there are many aspects like networking and adaptability involved, which will help during a future job role.


Nutrition Rugby Girls (NRG)

Daisy Pledger, Harry Meale, Callum Neave, Magda Kiec

NRG - Daisy Pledger, Harry Meale, Callum Neave, Magda Kiec

Nutrition Rugby Girls will be focusing on girls aged 11-14 within a secondary school in Southampton, introducing them to the sport of rugby, teaching them the basic skills of the game in a fun and safe environment.

We'll be using our sessions to educate the participants about nutrition and healthy eating. We'll be bringing  healthy foods to each session for the participants to try, and handing out recipe cards for them to take home.

Our CIP aims to increase participation in rugby for girls in the Southampton area, demonstrating that sport is accessible to them and providing knowledge and links to continue with sport, as well as providing them with information about health lifestyles and the benefits of sport.

Background information

When and where will your sessions be running?

Our project will be delivered in a school in Southampton. At the moment we have three schools in contention, so we're meeting with our partners to decide which one would benefit the most from our project. The project will run for 12 weeks, but we have also established a partnership with Trojans Rugby Club to provide potential exit routes for participants.

What things are you looking forward to?

We're looking forward to undertaking a challenge where we can gain new experiences. Working with the RFU is a really exciting opportunity for us moving forward.

We're excited about delivering holistic sessions, as previously we have just been coaching rugby, so there is now a shift in focus with the nutrition and health side being involved too.

We're proud that we'll be delivering a project we've all created from scratch.

What challenges do you think you will face during your sport for development project?

Because we're working with girls, and half of our CIP group are male, there may be a sense of animosity that the male coaches may have to overcome and adapt to first.

We don't want to be considered as just volunteering students. We want to be considered as sports development practitioners making a difference within the comprehensive field.

Update - January 2018

How's your CIP developing?

We've just had our first session of practical delivery, which went well. We had four participants, however we feel this low number may be due to the bad weather conditions. We asked for some feedback from our participants at the end of the session and they said it was the best rugby session they've ever had. We were very happy with this positive feedback!

What theoretical content that's been taught in lectures and seminars are you implementing in the delivery of your CIP?

As it was only our first session, we've not applied much theory to practice yet. However, the paperwork was completed so we'll start implementing theory moving forward to collect data for monitoring and evaluation. It will help that we have four coaches as we'll delegate roles for coaches, so two people may be in charge of M&E and two people may be in charge of delivering the session.

What's next for your CIP?

We plan for participants of the session to take over the session long-term. This would involve allowing the participants to coach for small segments of the session, guiding them and helping them so they'll be ready to take over the session. This will allow participants to develop their leadership and communication skills, which will be great additions to their CVs.

Update - April 2018: Evaluation phase

Having completed your CIP, what are your thoughts on the process?

It has been a challenging but enjoyable process throughout. Applying the theory to practice was challenging but rewarding. Trying to turn the theory into practice, which was something we had not done before, was a daunting task as it is very new to us. However, it is one that we learnt a lot from.

What were the main challenges you faced?

Working with a young audience was challenging, especially when implementing realist evaluation into our session. Trying to explain it to them was difficult, as this was not something they were aware of. Also, explaining this to our partners was another challenge - trying to explain what our monitoring and evaluation process was. Realist evaluation is not recognised in the sports development field, so it was not the norm to them. For instance, the teacher we were working with had been to university and hadn’t heard of realist evaluation before, and he's been a coach for years, so it was quite new to him. He was very interested in it and we were lucky to have that partnership, with him giving us his full support and being there for us if we needed any help. He was always fully supportive which was very helpful. They could see how much the girls were enjoying the session, so we think they were thinking about using some of our methods and implementing them into their own sessions, which is good.

How do you feel the CIP will help you moving forward with your career aspirations?

The CIP has definitely helped us moving forward. The process has helped one of our team members on a personal level realise that they would like to be a sports coordinator, rather than an actual coach. It has been a fun process, we've all learnt a lot and it's something that we will take into future jobs. You challenge yourself, and there is always something that happens that you perhaps do not expect, and this is what you can take forward. We have also realised that it's possible to run a session without funding – we didn’t get any funding and we were still able to run a session! The use of partners was enough to get our project up and running, and hopefully we have created a sustainable project. This is crucial for our development in our future careers - as sports development officers we need to learn to work with partners, so that is a really good aspect of the CIP that will help us in future. 


Walk Hard, Play Hard

Charlotte Berry, Josh Dolman, Fraser Ford, Harry Humphreys

Walk Hard, Play Hard - Charlotte Berry, Josh Dolman, Fraser Ford, Harry Humphreys

Walk Hard, Play Hard is planning to deliver walking football sessions for participants aged 50+. Walking football is a sport on the rise in the UK since its establishment in 2012, with more than 400 clubs across the UK. Walk Hard, Play Hard plans to help continue the growth of this exciting sport in Hampshire by providing sessions for people who are looking to get back into the sport. This would involve targeting people who have sustained injuries and area looking to get back involved in sport, as well as people who simply want to give waking football a try.

Background information

When and where will your sessions be running?

Our project will be starting in January and will run for 10 weeks in Eastleigh, with Eastleigh Borough Council. Furthermore, we'll be delivering two weeks of pilot sessions in November before starting in January to get an understanding of the context we'll be delivering in. This allows us to alter our project accordingly to ensure that it's as beneficial as possible.

What things are you looking forward to?

We're looking forward to applying theory into practice. We're interested in seeing how the theoretical content we've been taught is applied within a practical sports development environment.

We're excited to see and evidence what the beneficiaries gain from our intervention with regard to increasing physical activity and social cohesion.

What challenges do you think you'll face during your sport for development project?

We think that one of the main initial challenges will be finding the best way of advertising our project to our niche audience. We'll be looking to make sure that our collaboration with our partners is of a high quality as we have already had a small issue with previous partnership collaboration.

Update - January 2018

Having started your CIP, what are your early thoughts on the process?

Having developed our CIP for nearly two years, it's great to finally be able to deliver our programme within the community. Delivery itself seems to be going well and all of the participants seem to thoroughly enjoy the session. They've even been happy to come inside for a coffee and a chat after the session, which we did not expect on the first few weeks of delivery. It's great to see we're helping them get active and socialise with new people.

Walk Hard, Play Hard participants chat to the team after the session

What theoretical content that's been taught in lectures and seminars are you implementing into the delivery of your CIP?

The participants were very interested in the CIP and how it works, so we were able to reinforce our learning and knowledge of the process by explaining to the participants how the CIP works. We used the time when we went for a coffee after the session as an informal focus group where we could get to know everyone and implement M&E at the same time. We also spoke about M&E amongst ourselves in the car on the way home, as this was a good time to reflect immediately after the session.

What have you enjoyed about the CIP so far, and what challenges do you feel may occur moving forward?

Finally being able to deliver our CIP has been the highlight so far. As for challenges moving forward, implementing rules has been challenging, as participants have found it difficult to refrain from running. However, we don't want to keep stopping the session as we want the game to flow - constant breaks in play could become frustrating for participants. We'll look to gradually become firmer with the implementation of rules in future sessions.

Walk Hard, Play Hard participants mid-match

Update - April 2018: Evaluation phase

Having completed your CIP, what are your thoughts on the process?

We have all enjoyed the CIP process. There are so many positives to take away from the process long term - things like working with external partners, general organisation of the session, advertising the session and obviously the theoretical content which has been taught in the lectures and seminars. It has given us the relevant experience we will all use going forward, so the process has been really productive.

What were the main challenges you faced?

One of the main challenges was being consistent with the rules of the session. When you have people of different ages and, more specifically, different physical abilities, it's difficult because a less physically active participant who is running may be moving at the same pace as a just turned 50-year-old who is more physically active when they are just walking. So sometimes you have to use common sense and say, well, yes, they are running, but they are not travelling at a faster speed than the younger participant, so therefore we would regard this as legal. However, ensuring consistency with these decisions was difficult.

How did you find implementing the theoretical content that has been taught in lectures and seminars?

The theoretical content was difficult to get your head round at first, but once you understood, it was not too difficult to implement. Monitoring and evaluation is definitely something that has been helpful and something we will all use beyond university.

How do you feel the CIP will help you moving forward with your career aspirations?

The CIP will help massively going forward. The CIP is almost like creating your own mini business - you learn how to work in a team, contact and work with partners, implement monitoring and evaluation, use funding, and you learn how to make a project sustainable, which is all important within the industry. So, there is a lot we will all take away from the CIP. Not only this but it looks really good on your CV. A few people from our group have been applying for jobs or further education and they have spoken about the CIP in job interviews, which shows how important the CIP is on our CV. 

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