Virtual Olympics a success for sports-loving Ballard School

The Tokyo Olympics may be on hold – but the community at Ballard hasn’t let lockdown hold them back – they came together to enjoy athletic and sporting endeavours with their own Virtual Olympic games.

From the youngest pupils in Reception, to the teenagers at the top of the school, along with parents and teachers too, the whole Ballard community has been putting their athletic prowess to the test in the Virtual Lockdown Games 2020.

Pupils and their families at the independent school in New Milton were invited to join in at home, competing across 12 different challenges to be completed any time between June 8 – 21. The games were set by the School’s teachers to test endurance, accuracy, balance, coordination and skill, in the home environment with minimal equipment required.

They included running, push ups, bottle flipping, kick ups, toilet roll catching and a whole host of other activities such as ‘how many tea bags can you throw into a mug in a minute, or ‘how many t-shirts can you put on in 60 seconds’ – all aimed at keeping pupils active and having fun.

Short instructional video clips were created to explain the set up and scoring system, and some of the challenges were categorised into either ‘Challenger’ or ‘Legendary’ to allow everyone to take part at a level they felt comfortable with.

Participants could try as many of the challenges as they wanted, as many times as they wanted to achieve their highest score. Pupils’ scores were submitted to win points for their house, winning more according to the number of activities attempted and the points gained.

More than 400 entries were received across the 12 events over the two-week period of the games, with many families recording their efforts and sending in videos and photos to be shared with the school community.

Headmaster, Andrew McCleave, said:

“It has been wonderful to see the energy and enthusiasm with which the pupils have thrown themselves into the Virtual Lockdown Games – not to mention their parents and teachers too! I commend the Sports Department for finding such a fun way to support the children to stay active and healthy at home, and to bring the community together as well.”

Justin Whitbread, Director of Sport, said:

“We have been overwhelmed to receive over 400 responses to the challenges from pupils, staff, parents, friends and family. The sheer volume of entries from the Wilverley and Holmsley Houses in the final few days of the competition allowed them to create a gap far too big for Setthorns, our opening leaders and Broadley, to close down. Well done to our champions, Holmsley, whose podium finishes allowed them to accelerate convincingly to the top of the scoreboard to be crowned Champions of the Lockdown Games 2020.”

It isn’t the only ingenious means by which Ballard has been supporting pupils with physical education during lockdown. Sports teacher Daniel Winch created ‘Fit 4 Five’; a series of workout videos for younger pupils in which he demonstrated simple and fun exercises based around everyday household items, including a chair, a broom, a tennis ball and some tins of beans. Pupils were also invited to share their own mini home workout videos too.

Ballard has also just received the prestigious School Games Mark, awarded by Youth Sport Trust, in recognition of ongoing commitment and achievement in the School Games programme during the Autumn and Spring Terms. To gain the award, the school was recognised for having offered a range of opportunities in PE, sport and physical activity for all children in school from Kindergarten to Year 11.

Justin Whitbread, Director of Sport, said:

“At Ballard Sport, we are delighted to offer such a wide range of “Sport for All” inclusive opportunities with dedicated, qualified staff and outstanding facilities. Pupils can attend breakfast clubs, receive outstanding PE lessons, fixtures for all levels of ability and also after-school activities.

“It all goes together to create an environment where sport and competition can be enjoyed by everyone.

Thank you to the Daily Echo, IE-Today, the Advertiser and Times and Mags4Dorset for featuring our Virtual Lockdown Games: