Unique ‘SportSPIN’ project gets off the ground

Students from Swansea University will be helping to get school children in the Swansea area active through sport.

A partnership between the Swansea University’s Employability Academy (SEA), the Swansea University Students Union, Sport Swansea and Swansea Council has resulted in the establishment of the unique ‘SportSPIN’ project. The pilot project will see three Swansea University students supporting existing coaches from Swansea Council who go into schools and the local community assisting those most in need of sport tuition with the aim of keeping children active through sport.

SEA has used its Swansea Paid Internship Network (SPIN) bursaries to pay for these students, who have an interest in sports coaching careers, to undertake this work. The project came to fruition largely following concerns within SEA that certain industries were not paying students and graduates for work experience and expecting students to undertake long-term voluntary work.

SportSPIN students

The three students – Hugo Vivash, Ffion Hopkins and Mali Colloredo were successful following a recruitment exercise which saw over 25 students apply. All three are in their second year of a BSc Sport and Exercise Science degree, are keen sportspeople outside of their courses, and interested in exploring sports coaching as a graduate career.

The students who began their coaching in early February will be assisting Swansea Council to deliver programmes in local Communities, for two months, part-time, alongside their studies.

Speaking about the project Lucy Griffiths, SEA Employment Zone’s Team Leader said:

“SEA had already used our SPIN programme’s bursaries to successfully fund Swansea students to offer modern foreign language coaching in schools, in partnership with ERW. Given the abundant sporting landscape in Swansea, Gwyn Aled Rennolf, SU Sports Officer, suggested replicating this in Swansea schools for sports coaching and this suggestion aligned with my concerns around long-term, unpaid work experience in sport.

“The partnership was formed and the resulting SportSPIN pilot project is now off the ground. We are monitoring its success to inform similar projects in the future.

“SPIN and our Week of Work (WoW) have been highly successful placement programmes for SEA, supporting over 1,000 students (since the launch of SEA, six years ago) to gain vital work experience, predominantly in Wales and the UK, contributing to Swansea University’s outstanding UK employability rankings.”

Robert Francis-Davis, Cabinet Member for Culture, Tourism and Major Projects at Swansea Council said: “Swansea Council Community Sports coaches are responsible for the delivery of sports sessions, activities and events in selected primary and secondary schools, as well as local voluntary sporting organisations across Swansea.

“SportSPIN is a unique opportunity within Swansea for students to gain valuable experience before they set out on careers in coaching. Coaches are crucial to sport in Wales and they play a vital part in ensuring people are attracted to sport, enjoy sport and remain hooked for life.”

Both Andy Harvey, Employability Director for Sports Science and Gareth Stratton, Chair in Paediatric Exercise Science, at Swansea University, welcome SportSPIN and there is keen interest in its next phase.

Not only does SEA hope to work with Swansea Council again, following a successful pilot, but there is a lot of additional interest. Paul Whapham, Foundation Manager, and Mark Douglas, Commercial and Community Engagement Manager, at Ospreys in the Community are keen to collaborate. There will also be a SportSPIN project in partnership with Aspire2Be and Sean Holley’s popular ‘iBroadcast’, where digital technology is used to enhance employability outcomes within the field of sport media.

For more information about the work of the Swansea University Employability Academy and the SPIN programme go to http://www.swansea.ac.uk/sea/