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24 September 2014
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Junior Football News

Children dancing on a football pitch
Doing the Soccerjam!

Sheffield kids do the Soccerjam

Primary school boys and girls from across the city have been discovering a new fusion of football and dance at a fun day at Sheffield FC.

Children playing football
Dancing? No it's Lower Meadow playing five-a-side

What can you do on a football pitch, with a football that isn't actually a game of football? When you've got a pumping sound system and the boundless enthusiasm of former professional footballer Rich Hawke, the answer is Soccerjam!

Rich, who has played for Rotherham United, Chesterfield and Sheffield FC is back at the latter's ground with a mission to get boys and girls moving with the new soccer based aerobics routine he's invented.

High-energy

It's just one of the high energy activities getting children from four Sheffield primary schools running around the pitch at the Bright Finance Stadium. Co-organisers A4E were inspired by another kids scheme they run - Dancefit - which they noticed got girls enthused, but didn't do much for the boys, despite being on the PE curriculum.

Richard Hawke
Rich's headset helps him get people dancing

"I've been doing days of street dance in schools," explains Rich, who got his Exercise to Music gym instruction qualification after a broken shin ended his football career.

"It's hip-hop, jazz and funk and it's just something the boys never do."

Twenty minutes into the routine, which involves all manner of moving around the ball, there are clearly some toe-tapping, shoulder wiggling rhythm going on, and not just amongst the girls.

The aim of the day is not just to spread syncopation across South Yorkshire, tempting though that thought is: it's really about giving kids lots of reasons to put down their games consoles and play in ways that keep them fit.

Fast feet

Andy Brownrigg
Former Norwich City defender Andy Brownrigg

To the strains of the music which is drifting across the pitch, Sheffield FC coach Lee Walshall is setting kids from Foxhill and Dronfield their own fiendish soccer challenge. Rows of closely spaced mini metal hurdles have to be jumped over with precise footwork patterns that seem to get both boys' and girls' feet flying.

"It's called SAQ, or speed, agility, quickness," says Walshall. "It's being introduced into the Premiership and international teams and it really increases speed as well as fitness."

Former pros

Richard Hawke leads a Soccerjam session
Definitely a dance move: Rich Soccerjams...

Another former top-flight player, one time Norwich defender Andy Brownrigg, is also on hand to give a talk on nutrition, just to reinforce the message that you get out what you put in. Incidentally, the presence of these helpful former footballers is a bit of a lesson in careers: it's interesting for the kids to see what their glamorous on pitch heroes get up to when their playing days are over.

Andy's about to start studying for a Sports Psychology degree after completing a HND and is eager to tell young people about carbs and proteins as a favour to Sheffield FC.

Football fuel

"He told us about these carbohydrates and proteins people used to eat in olden days," says eleven-year-old Theo from Norfolk Community School. "They have right weird names."

Schoolboy in a baseball cap
Eleven-year-old Theo.

Theo and some of his friends have been to Sheffield FC before.  "We came for 7-a-side matches." said Theo. He's not had a go at the new dance routine yet but some traditional games have proved satisfying.

 "My favourite is kicking out each other's balls," he says, referring to a tackling exercise.

"We're doing it for the NSPCC, I raised £25 with a sponsorship form for coming today." Fun and fulfillment, then, not bad for the hottest day of 2006.

After some questioning it transpires that the mysterious ancient foodstuff is lentils - still available to fuel footballing and dancing youngsters across South Yorkshire.

Soccerjam took place at Sheffield FC's Bright Finance Stadium, Dronfield on Wednesday 19th July 2006. Pupils from Norfolk Community School, Foxhill Primary School, Lower Meadow School in Batemoor and Dronfield Junior took part.

last updated: 20/07/06
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