Encouraging outdoor play
Located on the outskirts of Delft and nestled in green surroundings, the Sportring venue was initially founded with the aim of encouraging students from TU Delft to get more active. The new initiative from Kinderopvang Morgen shares this aim for the younger children in its care. “We have been working on the idea to offer outdoor sports activities for a long time, but corona forced us to put our plans on hold,” Regina explains. “One of the biggest challenges was to find the right location. Our Max Havelaar childcare centre is located in the centre of Delft, so it was important to find a suitable location out of town in a green environment. Sportring is perfect.”
“Working with Sports4kids, has brought Sportring to life,” she continues. “The success is clear from the numbers of children who continue to come back, week after week.”
“Sports4kids has been getting children involved in sporting activities for more than 5 years,” Marco adds. “And one of our main aims is to encourage children to play outside more. The children enjoy the sports and also love the green surroundings.”
Although corona restrictions affected the pilot trial, which began in June 2019, the organisers are keen to continue building on the initial success. Regina: “The idea was to run a trial project for the first year, but corona lockdowns, emergency childcare and staff shortages made this impossible. With childcare closed for months at a time, the children were also unable to join in the Sportring activities. Now that society and childcare in particular have reopened, we’re delighted that we have been able to get the Sportring activities up and running again!”
Ready to go
Sportring activities taking place every Monday, Tuesday and Thursday from 15:00 until 17:00. The Max Havelaar children come to Sportring by bike, and the children from True Colors Delft are brought by bus. “While children enjoy the structured sports, there is also time before each session for free outdoor play,” explains Marco. “Many children choose football, while others take this opportunity to make new friends before the lesson starts.”
The structured activities focus on building up stamina, to help children improve individually and gain more from each session. Marco: “The children love it, and parents welcome the opportunity to give their children easy access to outdoor sport without the obligations of joining a local team.”
Each session is supervised by Marco, who is a qualified sports teacher. He is supported by a coordinated team of sport and pedagogical staff from the participating childcare centres. Marco: “With a team of three professional staff members, plus our interns, we’re able to give the children plenty of personal support and attention. At the moment we have around 10 – 15 children attending, but there’s no limit. Every child is welcome.”
Marco is busy sharing his knowledge and experience with his colleagues and interns from the local college, so that the initiative can be expanded to take more children. “Sportring is a large complex with super facilities that are perfect for our needs,” Regina adds with a smile.
“One of the unexpected benefits of the Sportring,” Regina points out, “has been the interaction between the English-speaking children with the Dutch children. With communication and social contact being a crucial part of team sports activities, bilingual interaction plays a positive role in supporting the learning of other languages, especially in children.”
Following the success of the Sportring initiative with children from Max Havelaar and True Colors Delft, the team has big plans for the future. Regina: “We’re keen to encourage more children from True Colors to come along, and we already have plans for expansion to include children from Brasserskade.”
“We have received funding to purchase new materials and the children clearly appreciate what’s on offer,” Marco adds. “Having seen how popular Sportring is during term time, we’re now looking at the possibility of offering more sessions outside of school terms for all our children from our childcare and afterschool care centres.”
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