Cardiff Metropolitan University's Junior Sports Academies held a celebration this week to mark fifteen years of success in providing sports coaching opportunities for young people.
The University's Junior Academies enable children between the ages of 4 and 18 to develop sporting skills in a range of disciplines including athletics, football, basketball, gymnastics, hockey, netball, swimming, volleyball, tennis, trampolining and table tennis. Academy training sessions run every week night and all weekend during term-time.
Established in 2000 on the University's Cyncoed campus, the 11 Cardiff Met Junior Academies attract over 2,500 children each week to participate in structured high-quality coaching sessions. The campus offers excellent facilities including the 5500m square National Indoor Athletics Centre which was the first purpose built indoor athletics track in the UK. The campus also boasts a state-of-the-art 3G pitch and a brand new international standard astro-turf pitch.
Cardiff Met's Junior Sports Academies are run by professional student coaches who are currently working towards undergraduate and postgraduate degree programmes at the university.
Sara Nicholes, Sport Development Manager at Cardiff Metropolitan University said: "Our Junior Academies are keenly focussed on grassroots sports across the disciplines. We are passionate that building confidence and nurturing talent at an early age is key to building sports stars of the future and encouraging a love of sport.
"The Junior Academies offer young people the opportunity to access high quality coaching and compete in both local and national sporting competitions. We are very proud to be celebrating fifteen years of success and have children attending our academies who have progressed through the ability levels and had the opportunity to try out a number of sports throughout their time with us."
Fourteen year old Mustafa Ali from Cyncoed started attending the Cardiff Met Junior Sports Academies and Dragon Camps in 2004 and is a current member of the Cardiff Coaching Centre, an invite-only football development centre.
He said: "I have been coming to the Cardiff Met Junior Sports Academies and Dragon Camps since the age of 4. I have been very fortunate to have had the opportunity to take part in so many different sports and to be taught by supportive, experienced coaches. The coaches always made the sessions fun and enjoyable and always made me want to come back the following week.
"I have always enjoyed swimming and athletics, but my passion is football. I'm proud to be a member of the Invite Only Cardiff Coaching Centre and to have had the opportunity to reach my full potential within the sport that I love.
Mustafa also volunteers with the Under 5 – Under 9 Junior Football Academy as a coach. He said: "I want to give other children the same opportunities to take part in sport, like I did. I always make sure the sessions are fun and that the children have a good time, to make sure they keep coming back."
Cardiff Met's Junior Sports Academies are open to all abilities and were set up to encourage children to remain active by developing both their co-ordination and sporting skills. Children and young people are provided with the opportunity to both stay fit and healthy and to socialise and meet new friends.
The Academies also offer young athletes the opportunity to compete in both local and national competitions including athletics track and field, cross country and road running events. A number of former participants have gone on to represent their sport at a National level.
During the school Easter and Summer holidays, Cardiff Met run a number of Junior Sports Development programmes. Dragon Camps is a multi-activity camp open to children aged 4 – 14 years which runs each day (excluding bank holidays) of the Easter and Summer school holidays. Please visit www.cardiffmet.ac.uk/dragoncamps for more information.
Cardiff Met also run a number of Sports Camps each year. Sports include Athletics, Football, Gymnastics, Hockey, Netball and Table Tennis. Camps are open to children of all abilities. Please visit www.cardiffmet.ac.uk/juniorsportsdevelopment for more information.