From the Principal 26 September

Fiona Godfrey, Principal

Fiona Godfrey, Principal

Last Saturday afternoon, I experienced one of my proudest moments as Principal of Radford College. Along with a large contingent of supporters, I headed to the Belconnen Basketball Centre to cheer on one of the eight teams we had playing off in grand finals. The team I specifically went to support was the U19 Division 1 Boys, who were playing their final game together, after many years of College representation.

Played against Marist, the closely fought game was of a very high standard. Radford rallied early in the second half and took a commanding lead of 10 points into the final 10 minutes of play. As is often the case in highly skilled competitions, Marist came back in the dying minutes of the game, but our boys steadied themselves to hang on for a two-point victory, 47–49.

Although it was a stirring victory and I was incredibly proud of both the skill level and sportsmanship displayed by the boys in the team, it was the level of support shown by the very large group of Radford students in attendance that gave me the greatest thrill. Every time Radford scored a point, the roar of the crowd was deafening and if felt as though the roof of the stadium was about to be lifted! It was quite literally a sea of Radford red and blue throughout the stadium and I am sure the boys playing must have been buoyed the level of support given to them.

The camaraderie, pride and passion displayed at the game last Saturday is one of the reasons why I am such a big advocate for sport. I am sure that each and every one of the boys playing in that team and all of the students supporting them will remember that game, and that day, for a very long time. They will look back with fondness at the opportunities that school sport gave to them in their final year/s of schooling. Likewise, the Year 10 & 11 girls, who played in Radford White’s winning netball grand final on the weekend, and the members of the other four basketball teams who also won their grand final on Saturday will also remember their victories for a long time to come.

The benefits of playing sport are well documented and ongoing research supports these social, emotional, physical and academic benefits for children of all ages. There is a growing amount of research from around the world that shows involvement by youth in sport plays a positive role in their development including improved academic achievement, higher self-esteem, fewer behavioural problems and better emotional intelligence. According to the US Anti Doping Authority (USADA)–sponsored website, Truesport, 'Many studies focus on the effects of sport on the five “C’s” – competence, confidence, connections, character, and caring – which are considered critical components of positive youth development. It has long been thought that the many facets of playing sport – the discipline of training, learning teamwork, following the leadership of coaches and captains, learning to lose – provide lifelong skills for athletes.'

Participation in regular sport and physical activity has been linked to improvements in academic performance in many studies (Daley et al, 2000; Dwyer et al, 2001; and Field et al, 2002, to name just a few). A review by Shepard (1997) suggests that physical activity’s influence on academic performance is via the acceleration of psychomotor development, which may accelerate the learning of academic skills. Research now suggests that we need to teach our children to have ‘physical literacy’ alongside literacy and numeracy skills. Within the current knowledge economy, much emphasis is placed on the ability to become a lifelong learner. As such, it may be possible to facilitate learning throughout life by promoting levels of activity amongst the young and old alike.

We know that the habits an individual develops in childhood are often mirrored in their adult life. Students who are exposed to a fun and fulfilling sports program at school are far more likely to continue in competitive sport or be involved in physical activity on a regular basis once they leave school. We also know that these habits set them up for a far healthier lifestyle. Repeated studies demonstrate that exercise is one the most important factors, along with diet and good sleeping habits, to prevent an array of diseases and illnesses including cancer, obesity, diabetes, heart problems and osteoporosis.

In addition to the physical benefits that regular exercise brings, it is also recognised that there is a strong correlation between exercise and psychological health. Physical activity reduces stress, produces a feeling of wellness and promotes a sensible approach to weight management. People who exercise on a regular basis during childhood and adolescence are more keen to exercise during adulthood, generally living a longer, healthier and happier life.

There are many reasons why we need a comprehensive Physical Education course as part of our curriculum, as well as a wide-ranging co-curricular sports program. We are indeed very fortunate to be able provide our students at Radford with a wide range of physical activities supported by good facilities and excellent equipment. I encourage all of our students to be involved with the sporting programme because playing sport and being physically active is vital for our health, social development and academic progress.

For all of the reasons detailed above, Radford is now considering making it compulsory for all students to play a sport during the winter season. Whilst we would obviously give an exemption to those students who are playing a sport outside of Radford that we don’t currently offer (e.g., AFL and hockey), or where students are playing at a level beyond what we offer, we do passionately believe it is important that all students are actively engaged in some form of sport or physical activity. As part of this move, we will be looking to add to our current range of offerings. This type of requirement is not unusual in independent schools and in fact, most schools similar to Radford, have sport participation as a compulsory part of a student’s school enrolment. I welcome parent feedback in relation to this matter.

Finally, I hope all Radford families have a safe, relaxing and enjoyable holiday period and I look forward to seeing everyone back for the start of Term 4 on Monday, 15 October.

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