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Back to the sporting field

Sport plays a key role in the social and physical development of our students and as pandemic containment measures ease and sport training returns, students have wholeheartedly embraced the opportunity to train safely together.

Aaaand we’re back and racing! Well, training. It was a welcome sight to see the purple and gold jerseys back on the sporting fields of Wesley as more than 70 per cent of students returned to socially distanced sports training, with matches to return next term.

The students were certainly excited to finally get back to team sport and the rhythm and routine of school life, and the benefits of team sport.

So what do students think?

‘It’s been an unusual year of sport so far, and everyone was keen to get back out onto the training track,’ Josh Pollock, Sports Prefect at the Glen Waverley Campus says. ‘This has been the longest pre-season in history!

‘Finally we have the chance to stretch our legs with our mates at training, and whilst we can’t high five, it’s forced us to use our voice for encouragement. I can’t wait to play matches in Term 3.’

Stephanie Scott, Year 12 Sports Prefect at the Glen Waverley Campus, has played hockey at the highest levels at Wesley since Year 7. She’s grateful for the opportunity to come back to sport, acknowledging that even being able to train can be considered a ‘luxury’ during a pandemic.

‘While we’re only training at this stage, the return to somewhat competitive games will come sooner than we imagine. I’ll be sad to end my final year of winter sport at Wesley this season, because I’ll miss the culture that we had and the people that I met,’ Stephanie says.

‘The fact that sport is returning is fantastic, because it will bring our Wesley community closer as we make the most of this time.’

A safe return to sport

Sport is deeply embedded in the history and traditions of Wesley College, and indeed some would say it’s an integral part of the Australian lifestyle. The philosophy of sport at Wesley focuses on inclusion and participation, encouraging all students to have an active lifestyle.

With 19 sports to choose from, and 680 teams, there are many opportunities for students of all abilities – from novice to elite – to discover and develop their sporting passions.

In the winter season, sports include football, soccer, netball, basketball, hockey, gymnastics and cross country. Training continues for these sports, with matches to commenced in Term 3 for a truncated season.

The highly competitive APS Sport winter season will commence on 25 July and run until September, if government guidelines permit.

On the Wesley sports fields, hygienists have been recruited to assist coaches in ensuring strict safety protocols are followed. The return to sport has been carefully managed, and follows the same principles as the return to the classroom of prioritising the health and wellbeing of our College community at all times.

We’re providing a safe space to train and encouraging students to ‘get in, train and get out’ in line with government advice encouraging caution.

Staying fit, active and connected during remote learning

With students spending more time on screensduring remote learning, it was important that they took breaks and remained active. Campus sport managers encouraged both students and families to stay active and safe during the lockdown and provided movement tips, activity ideas and resources. It was a thoughtful way to keep connected to families and remind them that mental wellbeing is linked to physical wellbeing.

Wesley’s head coaches designed sport-specific training programs for students to train at home, and keep their fitness and skills up in preparation for the winter season. Strength and conditioning programs and a yoga program complemented the sport sessions.

Years 5 and 6 students participated in twice-weekly sport sessions, following drills and instructional videos to develop skills in a range of sports. Equipment included common household items such as balloons and cushions as well as traditional sporting equipment such as netballs and AFL footballs. Regardless, the focus was always on fitness and being active, and sometimes involving the family too.

The sporting spirit

As our students return to the sporting field after months in lockdown, they may be feeling that they’ve missed something: the start of the season, the first few wins, the last of the decent autumn weather.

They’re not alone, and even dealing with those feelings can be a learning experience. Elite athlete Jemima Montag (OW2016) was to compete in the now-postponed Olympics, but even she has lessons that she’s learned from sport. ‘Something I’ve learnt from sport is that the big successes and feelings of accomplishment don’t come around very often. When a spectator sees you cross the finish line or stand on the podium, they only really see the minutest fraction of a very long journey. While it feels fantastic to place a big tick beside a goal, and goals are important as they can guide us towards purposeful, fulfilling journeys, I’ve learned that a goal isn’t so much a destination as a direction.’

We’ll feel comfort in knowing that the wins, losses, gruelling training and the whole sporting spirit are giving our students the resilience to see the challenges of this time and overcome them.