Snowy conditions in Samara
Playing football on a frozen field
Cycling in the snow
Russian students boxing
The temperature in the Samara Region, about 500 miles south east
of Moscow, can fall to -40 degrees in winter. However, as a visiting
sports delegation from schools in West Yorkshire discovered, this
doesn't deter Russian school pupils from having PE lessons outside.
'They just pile on more clothes,' says Dave Tromans, Director of
Sport at Knottingley High School and Sports College.
After an initial fact-finding visit in February to establish
links with a variety of specialist sports schools in the area,
the members of the sports delegation were in Russia at the invitation
of the British Council and the Youth Sport Trust to observe how
sport is taught there and to share ideas for best practice with
Russian colleagues. 'We watched pupils being coached in basketball,
volleyball, football, athletics and wrestling. At the end of many
of the lessons we teachers joined in and played with pupils and
their teachers. They couldn't wait to engage us in competition!'
In Russian specialist sports schools sport and PE are taught
for up to five hours a week, twice the quota in Britain. Respect
for discipline and the importance of good posture and muscle tone
are evident, indeed posture and muscle conditioning are taught
as a formal lesson. Russian sporting facilities are used to the
utmost, with many schools operating a double seven-hour shift
system, six days a week.
The visitors came back full of ideas for how they could exploit
their own facilities to offer more opportunities for sport to
all. As a result, Knottingley has already opened up its specialised
PE facilities to local primary schools in the mornings and held
the first of many projected sporting events bringing together
32 primary schools with local rugby clubs. And thanks to sponsorship
raised from companies in the Knottingley area, a sports delegation
from Samara will be visiting West Yorkshire for a week in the
One area of common concern that teachers from east and west shared
was the drop-off in sporting activity that takes place at 16.
All agreed that they would like to see the enthusiasm that young
pupils have for sports of all kinds develop into a lifelong learning
interest. While the British party stressed the health aspect of
physical activity, the Russians value sport's role as a deterrent
to drugs and anti-social behaviour.
In return for all the demonstrations of sporting excellence they
were treated to, the teachers from West Yorkshire introduced the
Russians to a speciality of their own. 'We took out all the equipment
for rugby, which we'd decided was a typical sport from our own
region. We taught tag rugby in 15 schools and pupils of all ages
enjoyed it tremendously - we left rugby balls for them to go on
playing it.' Not being as used to the extreme cold as the Russians,
the English teachers conducted rugby lessons indoors!
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