Author - Deborah Breacher

The Sports for Schools Conference 2022

Last week we held our first Sports for Schools Conference since 2019. It was great to see so many familiar and new faces in person.

Our theme for this year’s event was storytelling. Each of our athletes has an incredible and inspiring story to tell, and they all tell their stories in different ways, this gave us a great opportunity to share and learn from each other.

In particular, we loved Frederick Afrifa’s catchphrase from his talk ‘Keep moving forward’ a simple, yet powerful phrase that children can easily remember and remind them of the importance of keeping going, even when things get tough.

We also welcomed Greg Davies, the Storyfella to run an interactive storytelling workshop for us.

Some of our top tips for keeping children engaged & telling a great story included:

  • Use your voice: Pace, pitch, power, pronunciation and pause
  • Body language and movement – use body language to show and move around the stage/room
  • Be authentic and have humility

It was a pleasure to be able to hold our annual Sports for Schools awards ceremony. Thanks to some lovely feedback from our schools, and votes from colleagues, we gave some of our athletes the following awards;

  • Liz Clough was named Sportivater of the year – “Always well prepared; full of energy; totally adaptable!”
  • Nerys Pearce was named Athlete of the year –  “Acknowledges every child, and the best storyteller!”
  • Sara Roberts was named Office Team member of the year “outstanding customer service – extraordinary ability build rapport with everyone she speaks to”
  • Jess Roper won Best social media activity – “the sheer volume and engagement achieved is outstanding”
  • Sean Rose won Best feedback of the year – “Only one word, FANTASTIC”

We are lucky to work with some brilliant athletes and sportivaters who are truly dedicated to helping to inspire children. Their dedication shows in the number of children they have inspired while working with us and we were delighted to give lifetime achievement awards for the number of children inspired to:

  • Joe Roebuck for an incredible, 100,000 children inspired
  • Belinda Stephen for 50,000 children inspired
  • Liz Clough for 50,000 children inspired
  • Amy Smith for 50,000 children inspired
  • Jack Rutter for 50,000 children inspired
  • Peter Bakare for 50,000 children inspired

CONGRATULATIONS to all our athletes and sportivaters!

Everyone went away from the conference with new ideas, knowledge and renewed enthusiasm. We are already looking forward to the Sports for Schools conference 2023!

Take a look at some more photos from the conference:



From Football Coaching to Leadership Skills

The importance of a good coach to motivate and inspire teams should never be underestimated.

There are legendary examples of how certain individuals have provided such invigorating pre-match pep talks that the team has gone on to win – despite all the odds. San Francisco Giants outfielder Hunter Pence gave an inspirational speech to motivate his baseball team, which was down 2-0. So strong were his words, his boys went on to win their next three games and the World Series.

Pence’s speech consisted of him telling the team to look into each other’s eyes.

He then told them

“I want one more day with you, it’s the most fun, the best team I have ever been on. And no matter what happens we must not give in, we owe it to each other, to play for each other…”

Being able to inspire others with words is a talent. Pence created a sense of unity amongst his teammates.

Here at Sports4Schools we’re delighted to say we have our own in house Hunter – in the form of James Watson. A graduate of Portsmouth University, James has a 1st in Sports Management and Development. His football coaching methods involve plenty of encouraging one-lines which he uses both on and off the field. His pep talks work well for the business world too. Examples of James’ one-liners include:

  • “Keep pushing everyone we’re nearly there,”
  • “Can we do better than last week?”
  • “Added time now just one big burst from everyone and we’ll have this done.”
  • “Keep smashing it team”

It all chimes well with Stanford psychologist Albert Bandura’s study of self-efficacy. His research showed that if a person truly believes that they can accomplish a task then they are more likely to do just that.

Tiffanye Vargas, an associate professor of sport psychology at Cal State University, Long Beach, says the content of a leaders’ speech can raise “perceived self-efficacy,” making players feel more energetic, determined, charged and confident.

Further studies she carried out showed that emotional speeches were far more likely to raise self-efficacy than a talk about strategy or an instructional talk (i.e. telling players to drink enough water etc.). Examples of emotional speeches were telling players that the opposition team coach didn’t rate their skills and was telling his players it’d be ‘an easy win’ for them.

Coach Hunter Pence and our own James Watson don’t only have coaching skills, but are adept at leading a team.

Four other leadership skills which are learned in sports coaching:
  • Motivating and delegating tasks. Leaders need team building skills to help them positively influence group projects, employee engagement and motivation.
  • Strategic Development and Organisational Skills. Coaches must be able to provide a game plan and a strategy to win. Leaders need to always have the endgame in mind and ensure the work is being done efficiently.
  • Self-Discipline. Leaders need to work on their own skills and, at the same time, develop new ones – just as players need to continually practice to keep up their sporting prowess.


Sports for Schools is a social enterprise that works with top athletes from around the UK and Ireland visiting primary schools to inspire and encourage kids of all abilities, and teachers, to be more active.  Our mission is to Activate, Educate, Motivate and Innovate schools and parents through a series of events and workshops.  If you’d like your school or parents to get active, get in touch with us and see how we could help you inspire our next generation.