GAME4PADEL is delighted to share details of our new Junior Development Programme.
Our ground-breaking padel education project will be run by Game4Padel's Growth & Participation Director Vincent Hivert in conjunction with Edinburgh City Council’s Racket Development Officer Ryan Harrower (above left), and will initially look to introduce padel and its benefits to 10 target schools (seven primary and three secondary) within the Scottish capital’s boundaries.
The primary programme, now rolling out across 30 classes spanning P3, 4 and 5 and reaching out to almost 900 pupils, is the first padel project of its kind to be piloted in a major UK city.
Reflecting on all of this Ryan, who has been involved in sports development and coaching for 25 years, said: “The partnership between myself and Game4Padel is to focus initially on the Edinburgh Park site and I'm hoping that will be a model we can develop across all Game4Padel sites.
“Essentially, we are looking to increase the exposure of padel as a sport and increase participation numbers of juniors through the development of a schools programme and this will be the starting point in a pathway to establish a structured junior coaching programme.
“Tennis was always my first sport – I played it as a junior and coached, but after picking up a padel racket and loving it, I just thought it would be great if I could do with padel what I’d done with tennis and then bring it to schools and juniors. Working with Game4Padel on this exciting new programme is the perfect way to achieve that.”
Having a vast reservoir of experience to draw upon from delivering rackets programmes with Edinburgh City Council, originally as Tennis Development Officer and then as Rackets Development Officer with overarching responsibility to oversee tennis and badminton, and now tennis and padel, Ryan’s enthusiasm for his new role in partnership with Game4Padel is palpable.
As he explained: “At the moment we have 10 target schools, with seven primaries and three secondaries within the programme and some of these schools will fit into a social change programme.
“At present I am working with four primary schools (Carrick Knowe, East Craigs, Corstorphine and Gyle Muir) and two secondary schools (Forrester and St Augustine’s High School) with four more yet to join. The primary programme will reach across 30 classes spanning P3, 4 and 5, which is nearly 900 pupils and by next Thursday I will have delivered 60 sessions.
“The session content will very much provide the exposure the sport requires and will filter kids into a junior programme – the content is delivered in a way which modifies the game to suit the primary school setting.
Each age group receives two taster sessions including fun-filled activity stations they rotate around, plus an activity pack and we have various engagement tools to make the content helpful and relevant to their level and of course relate to the respective age group.”
Last weekend the programme’s first Open Day was successfully held at our Edinburgh Park venue with Ryan working alongside ‘EP’ head coach and manager Ross Murdoch to deliver what was a superb introduction to padel for the youngsters.
Reflecting on this Ryan said: “This was part of the schools offering – they received their taster sessions and part of that was to have them along to an event and the Open Day seemed a good fit. It was also to raise awareness and provide them with free activity which is fun and generates interest in the junior programme.
“We had around 38 children turning up on the day and for me that was a good starting point and we delivered five sessions in total across two courts. We had a P1, 2, 3, 4 session and a P5, 6, 7 and S1 and 2 and we aligned it to what the junior programme was going to offer and this was delivered by myself and Ross Murdoch with a variety of activities and prizes. We also had an exhibition match for the parents and pupils to watch so they could see the sport being played.”
Back row from left: Edinburgh Park Head Coach Ross Murdoch, G4P Growth & Participation Director Vincent Hivert, and Edinburgh City Council's Rackets Development Officer Ryan Harrower.
Projecting forward Ryan was happy to share some more of the programme’s potential content and he said: “There will hopefully be a third programme where we incorporate padel within a social change programme within a target community setting which links in with current local community organisation key objectives.
“So that might be something like an intervention programme and it’s likely we will target one of the areas below the Social Index for Multiple Deprivations and work with pupils at risk and link in with an organisation doing intervention work within that setting. We have ambitious plans and that is the next stage to be developed.”