A SPORTS training program across three major cities in the Kingdom recently aimed to engage youth in leading sports events in their communities, as part of the Ministry of Education’s efforts to improve coaching in schools.
More than 100 local coaches have been trained in the program to mentor some 300 young student leaders aged 14 to 19 in organizing events, such as sports festivals, in Riyadh, Jeddah and the Eastern Province since last month.
The Youth Sports Trust International program, organized by the British Council in partnership with the Ministry of Education, aims to encourage young leaders to become sports ambassadors within their communities and encourage others to take up sports in their daily lives.
Sports leadership helps deliver teamwork and communication skills that will eventually raise their confidence, according to the senior program manager, Rehana Mughal.
“This development will give them the opportunity to use their skills to encourage participation in sporting and fitness events for children, young people and adults,” she said.
In the past year, the Kingdom has promoted sports for youth and lifted restrictions on women playing sports.
“The Ministry of Education in the Kingdom has good plans for the fitness curriculum; there is recognition that sports can help to develop healthy minds as well as healthy bodies,” says Mughal. “We hope that our approach, which is focused on encouraging young people to be inclusive and to take responsibility for organizing sports activities for others will become part of the sports offer in all local schools. This approach develops useful skills for life such as team work, planning and leadership.”
Physical education classes were first reintroduced to girls’ schools in July after a decades-long ban. For female students, it is a new experience and teachers hope to raise more awareness on the importance of physical education.
Zain Tourkustani, an arts and physical education teacher at one of the schools, said, “As sports leaders, we have managed to receive training and gain expertise on how to become proficient leaders to be able to share our knowledge with the students as well as help them build their strength. Together with the students, we aim to become a bigger team and achieve our mission in the most appropriate and efficient way.”
Parents need to be involved in the process of raising awareness, she believes. “We share our expertise with the students, who then share what they have learned with their parents,” she said. “In my opinion, this is not enough exposure for the parents to decide whether or not the program is good enough for their children. One way to make the parents realize the true benefits of the program is by allowing them to participate in the program. This would help us raise awareness among other parents about the program and the benefits it holds.”
Commenting on the training program, a representative of the Ministry of Education said, “We have chosen 25 female coaches who will be assigned tasks that will enable the achievement of the initiative’s goals. There is set criteria that the participants should meet.”
The criteria set by the ministry include several conditions. The coaches must be physically fit, have work experience in education of not more than ten years for upper levels, preferably speak English, have effective communication skills, have the willingness to continue the program in the future, and acknowledge the importance of physical education of female students.
A heavy emphasis on sports and physical activities has been taken up by the National Transformation Program. From $3 billion to $5 billion are planned to be spent between now and 2030 to develop a sports ecosystem in the Kingdom.
Asked how the Ministry of Education is working to set up facilities in schools, a representative told Saudi Gazette: “The ministry aims to improve and develop the infrastructure to meet the needs of the schools. It is also seeking to secure the resources needed for teaching physical education. This will be implemented by the General Directorate of School Supplies.”
Source : Saudi Gazette