Budding sports stars from a North Shields school had the opportunity to follow in the footsteps of the Newcastle Eagles when they played on the basketball court at the Vertu Motor Arena in the regional final of a tournament. The Year 5 pupils from St Cuthbert’s Catholic Primary were among 400 children from across the North East region to take part in the Hoops4Health basketball programme, which launched in 2000 to promote a healthy lifestyle to young people through the sport of basketball.

We have taken part before and work as much as we can with local sporting organisations, as it helps connect what the children do at school to real life,” said Shaun Dillon, Head Teacher at St Cuthbert’s, which is a member of the Bishop Bewick Catholic Education Trust.

It is also incredibly important that our children can see that there is a way for them to be involved in sports away from school, and to have experience of as many different sports and activities as possible at a young age.

As part of the initiative, Eagles players visit each participating school to discuss the benefits of playing the sport, with the scheme currently covering six councils across Newcastle, Sunderland, Gateshead, North and South Tyneside, and Northumberland.

The Newcastle Eagles and our Year 5 children worked together at St Cuthbert’s, learning how to play basketball, building teams and inter-connecting activities to our curriculum – looking at the human body and nutrition, wellbeing, exploring how exercise makes us feels better, improves our mental wellbeing and how teamwork makes our community stronger,” explained Mr Dillon.

The event at the Vertu Area was a celebration of all the work that went on during the sessions at school.

The children were split into teams, and each team played a total of 16 matches against teams from other schools,” he added. “Each match lasted six minutes, and all teams were delighted and excited to play at least one game on the official Newcastle Eagles matchday basketball court. The children had an amazing time and showed a fantastic sporting attitude, determination and skill in all their games. They also loved meeting coaches and players from Newcastle Eagles.

The success of the event has had a lasting impact at St Cuthbert’s.

Basketball fever has taken such a strong hold on our children that our young sports leaders have been working with our PE co-ordinator and our caretaker on installing new basketball nets around the school grounds so that everyone can play the game,” continued Mr Dillon.

There have been a lot of basketball matches on the school playground at break and lunchtimes, as our Year 5 sports leaders teach the rest of the school how to play. These events are incredibly important as they help the children see the connection between our curriculum at St Cuthbert’s, their own wellbeing, the collective wellbeing of the community, and the part that being active, eating well and talking play in all this.

By taking part in practical sessions as well as coaching sessions with the Newcastle Eagles, the children can see clear examples of what they are doing in action, and taking part in a competition at such a prestigious venue shows them clear pathways they can follow.

Sent on behalf of Bishop Bewick Catholic Education Trust and Barking Dog Media. For more information contact david@barkingdogmedia.co.uk or call 07754 271086.