As a youngster I enjoyed sport albeit never a top class exponent – rugby and cricket for the school side (QEGS Hexham), village cricket for Haltwhistle in the West Tyne League, knockabout tennis at Haltwhistle Tractomens Tennis and Bowls Club.
At 16 I did play at Twickenham for Northumberland Under 16s v Middlesex as a lively, jinking, wing three quarter (1956). When at Uni in Nottingham (’57 – ’60) I opted for the Rambling Club in the Derbyshire Dales but once on a teaching career track helped out refereeing school rugby until my 40s.
As head of The Hayfield School I encouraged staff to be proactive in helping out with school sides – rugby, football, cricket, hockey, basketball, table tennis, athletics, netball.
It was always a delight to find more than 100 pupils playing on a Saturday morning and many also joining Doncaster sports clubs, including Branton Boys Soccer Club utilising our school fields.
The school now has a community sports facility with changing rooms and all-weather pitches. In the 1980s and ’90s school rugby and cricket sports teams went on tour to the Lake District, Oxfordshire, and Devon.
Post 2000, Saturday sports has become more difficult due to family shopping outings, Saturday jobs, and staff living further away from schools. Finding fixtures can be problematic.
However, the shortfall has been taken up by Sunday youth sport hosted by local club sides running junior teams or events – hence mini rugby at Castle Park.
I hope parents will encourage their teenage offspring to be active in sport. A host of opportunities exist – Doncaster cricket clubs, local football teams, Doncaster Tennis Centre, Keepmoat Athletics, Castle Park rugby union, Doncaster Hockey Club (Town Moor), rugby league, golf (Town Moor, Doncaster Golf Club, Wheatley Hills, Bawtry), Doncaster Squash Club (Bennetthorpe), rowing on the Don at Sprotbrough, swimming, dance academies, netball leagues, basketball, martial arts, sailing, cycling, badminton.
You can help out with transport, kit, ‘touchline’ support and may be able to offer coaching or social help to a club. We all owe a debt to those who give up time to do so, in schools and clubs. Taking part for young people enhances health, encourages team skills, promotes self confidence, and widens their social interaction. There’s a role for everyone whatever their physique and talents.
It was a pleasure to see Louis Tomlinson of One Direction, and one of my ex-pupils, following up his teenage passiong for football, via school, and a Branton pub side, by charity fundraising at Doncaster Rovers.
My son, now in his 40s, participated in mini rugby at Castle Park, took up golf (still plays) and wind surfing. My daughter swam for the Royal Navy and still takes part in mini marathons.