Dean Hardman, AoC Director of Sport and Student Experience gives an update on plans for AoC Sport competitions and our ambitions for the autumn term.
It goes without saying that the past few weeks have presented unprecedented challenges for all parts of society, not least the sport and education sectors.
Like our member colleges and their staff, we at AoC Sport have had to adapt very quickly to the realities of virtual delivery of activities, home working and, perhaps hardest of all, the absence of competitive sport and the vital social side of being physically active.
It’s been inspiring to see the work that has been carried out across the FE sector and the efforts made by colleagues to encourage students to continue exercising and retain their passion for competition.
We are proud to have also played our role in that, with our lockdown championships, virtual network meetings, activity resources
and esports competitions.
However, attention is now understandably turning to September and more colleges opening their doors to students.
It is clear from our recent survey that many members are concerned about how social distancing will impact the delivery of their study programmes, enrichment, competitive sports programmes as well as the challenge of re-engaging students in physical activity.
We recognise those challenges and the fact that members will have a lot of competing priorities as they seek to rebuild their college communities.
So, we want to give some clarity around our ambitions for the autumn term.
We would like to assure everyone that we are speaking regularly to partners in government, at Sport England and with national governing bodies to ensure we are well positioned to provide the latest guidance and advice.
It is for these reasons that we have decided to reschedule the start of our AoC Sport league competitions until the second half term and regional tournaments for colleges will be held in the spring term (see link below).
With previously unscheduled exam periods, extended induction processes and, potentially, social distancing meaning a reduced number of students in college, commencing the competition period a little later will allow members to ensure their teams are better prepared and ready to play.
We passionately believe that sport and physical activity have a huge role to play in helping young people adapt to the new realities of college life, in rebuilding college and wider communities and in staff and students maintaining mental and physical wellbeing.
Our focus for the first half term will therefore be on providing alternative forms of competition and on supporting members and their students to be physically active and to return to the playing of sport at their college site, in line with the government and public health guidelines. We will be providing more details of these programmes and projects as soon as possible.
The current competition timeline can be found here
. The deadline for entries is 5 June 2020 but there is no commitment to enter at this stage, it is purely for planning purposes.