King Edward VI School (KES) in Bury St Edmunds and the Bury Schools Partnership (BSP) have become vital to Tchoukball in Suffolk in recent years. The sport's popularity in the county has flourished this school term with a variety of Tchoukball events held at the school since September.
Early into the term, the school and the BSP hosted the third annual Suffolk Tchoukball Festival for Year 3 students. The focus was on inclusion, and spreading the name of Tchoukball to as many youngsters and adults alike, whilst having fun learning the rules and tricks of the game. In late September the school also hosted Chinese students and Bury St Edmunds Tchoukball Club and KES coach, Mike Harman, led a training session for their visitors.
Harman said: This trip focuses on leadership, and communication, so to have Chinese students teach and lead a sport that they may have never come across is a great achievement.”
November saw the school embark on a natural progression for their annual Tchoukball Festival. The school and BSP hosted the first annual Suffolk Tchoukball Championships. The event saw eight teams from across Suffolk and the BSP take part in, for many, their first competitive Tchoukball fixtures. The event was won by Hardwick Primary School, and bodes well for the future as many of the schools who participated have requested additional coaching from members of Bury St Edmunds Tchoukball club.
The schools final event this half term was part of their No Limits Academy programme. This programme allows the most able and committed students from local primary schools the opportunity to expand their sporting prowess. In total 24 students were involved and the academy’s first activity of Tchoukball had a cardio vascular theme to it.
Suffolk has also started to take steps towards engaging with potential coaches of the sport. After establishing links with Boston United Community projects, the first Level One tutor course in the east of England, a second course has been planned for South Suffolk Leisure Centre.
"Tchoukball continues to develop, grow and mature in Suffolk. This is largely due to the popularity of Bury St Edmunds Tchoukball Club amongst our younger members, but also because of the support and effort given by both KES and BSP," said Harman.
"We have everyone from the youngest child to the oldest adult enjoy the game for what it is. Everyone wants to play this sport in order to learn about it further. I have had former players and referees speak to me in delight about how their child is now playing at school after thinking that Tchoukball wasn’t played nor taught in schools. The tchoukball bug is infectious."
"Having more coaches locally can only be a good thing. It strengthens the sport’s popularity in Suffolk, but also allows for the next wave of clubs, players, and coaches to come through."
"Those who enjoy Tchoukball in the East of England work tirelessly to promote this sport and to get as many people involved as possible. The fruits of their labour are really starting to come through now.”
Bury head coach Ian Parker added: "What Mike and the young volunteers from the school have achieved in the past few months is incredible and I can only hope that the club and the sport as a whole can reap the benefits in the coming years. The real challenge is hanging onto these players and keeping them interested for when they are old enough to join the club."