Creating an inclusive Sports Day to remember for all the right reasons isn’t easy, but preparation and purchasing the right equipment makes it easier.
Make your event more accessible by considering sound and visuals — how big is your venue? What accommodations might families or learners with mobility challenges or physical disabilities need to get involved in the action? Add games to the roster that aren’t competitive, so more kids participate without nerves. Choose activities that can be played by house teams or classes, to foster a culture of support and camaraderie that will likely extend way beyond the sports field.
Game activities for your schedule
Challenge games create the classic team building environment, developing problem-solving skills, helping students manage risk, effectively communicate, work as a team, and help create a sense of belonging.
Target games demand concentration, hand-eye co-ordination and accuracy, yet not necessarily athleticism. They can be opposed (where the opposition’s play affects the next move, think bowls or curling) or unopposed, such as darts or golf, where an individual’s play is not affected by opposition moves.
Striking and fielding games, such as rounders or cricket, involve strategy, speed, strength, accuracy and require a team approach. Net/wall games also involve strategy in attack / defence of an area, with an aim of making it difficult for an opponent to score.
Tag games and invasion games prioritise reading the opposition. Aiming to invade an opponent’s territory or tag players, these games are typically fast paced and require good teamwork, building strong camaraderie among team players. While the goal of cooperative games is to reduce emphasis on competition and increase onus on social aspects of working together.
Having an equipment inventory is a given, as is providing shaded areas for participants, officials and spectators on hot days, and water should always be on hand. And if you want to build the atmosphere, a PA system for music, as well as announcements, and a digital scoreboard or video screen can give your sports day a professional edge.
Teaching staff and school leaders will often gain in popularity by getting stuck in. The teacher’s race, after all, is sports day’s blue-ribbon event. It’s the race everyone wants to see, and some staff will bust a gut (or possibly a hamstring) in their attempt to win.
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Here are some helpful hot tips from suppliers geared to boost your school’s sports day preparedness…
JPRO representative Andrew Sorrill vividly recalls making do with screeching horn speakers when he was in school, “the convenience of portable sound systems wasn’t user-friendly back then!”
“Portable battery-powered systems have become more powerful, easier to carry with a longer battery life (typically 6-12 hours at full volume) and built-in digital mixers. They can be carried with one hand and easily set up in under a minute.
“In 2022, these systems provide high performance for speech, music, and a person can control the sound via an app. The technology of portable sound systems for sports days, team building or hui has improved so much that battery powered systems can be ‘daisy chained’ together to cover a larger area.
“Column array speakers generally carry sound over a greater distance than conventional point source or horn speakers, without the sound having to be too loud or annoying in the front. Convenient portable battery powered systems allow the user to use a sound system wherever they need it – indoors or outdoors.”
Research is key: “A well-designed sound system needs to reproduce the original sound source accurately and with good coverage (and distance). Poor quality systems are not able to do this, often resulting in mental-and-ear-fatigue due to psychoacoustics. Upgrading a sound system should always be considered as an investment.”
Sports Distributors’ Gene Coates-Reid wants every school in NZ to have the ability to help students become the next All Black, Black Stick, Black Fern, or simply have the opportunity to be active, fit, and healthy.
“Cost is sometimes an inhibiting factor in this goal,” he says, “One way to help school budgets purchase much more for the dollar is to place more emphasis on group games, so that the apparatus being used is not exclusively for individual use. Equipment for games like spike or swat ball allow groups of four to play on the one frame, and I’ve noticed them becoming increasingly popular.
“While schools will also need individual sporting equipment to facilitate activities like badminton, tennis, etc, my foremost advice is to prioritise team activities and group-focused games—one soccer ball can keep 22 kids busy for a period.
“Plus, on wet days, well-placed group-focussed equipment can keep lots of students busy and active even in small indoor spaces.
“My small tip for schools upgrading sports equipment is to ensure that you do some due diligence. Especially when using a school budget and wanting quality products. Look to tried and trusted local suppliers, who have been supplying the NZ school market long-term.”
Edwards Sound representative, Jonathan Neil suggests schools keep it simple when upgrading their sound system. He advises:
“Don’t get something too complicated to use. You have a variety of users with varied levels of technical ability, and they don’t want to be intimidated just trying to switch it on. Look for something you can use for a variety of purposes, good quality and a bit rugged. A built-in trolley and wheels are handy.
“Ask around – what do other schools use and like? You could also ask what local pro-sound rental companies use for portable PA systems – they will generally use something that is a good investment and stands up to life on the road. It won’t usually be the cheapest ones.
“Portable PAs are beneficial because they can be locked away to prevent theft. Schools also find a multitude of uses for them, as the systems tend to be feature-packed with Bluetooth receivers, audio mixers built in for extra microphones and music playback to connect, MP3 recorders, etc. I’ve seen schools using them for outdoor assemblies, jump jams, outdoor classrooms, staff training, or even the school production.
“My top tip is to designate someone responsible for charging the built-in batteries—PAs have batteries built in, which may be damaged if stored without charging first.”