What do CAN Youth Sports do?
We deliver FREE sports sessions around Sandwell, for young people between the ages of 13–23.
You don’t have to be super-fit or have played any sports before. We’re here to give people the opportunity to try a number of different sports and activities for the first time. We like to provide unique sports, making them accessible for all – especially for those families that cannot afford them. Everyone should have the opportunity live a healthy lifestyle.
At CAN Youth Sports, we don’t make anyone feel pressured to try anything they don’t want to. Our sessions are all about taking part and being healthy as we know that exercise contributes in a positive way towards mental health.
We focus on having fun. Our backgrounds and experience means that we are also able to advise and point people in the right direction if they’ve found a new passion that they want to develop.
What sessions did you run over the summer?
The warmer weather, longer days, and of course school holidays, gave us lots of opportunities to get together and run sessions. We like to have lots of sports tournaments throughout the summer and this year they included football, basketball, cricket and dodgeball. For some of the young people it was their first time playing in this type of competition. It was a great chance for them to come to play in a structured but overall fun, competitive environment. Tournaments teach the value of teamwork and fairness in competition. They provide a great foundation for those taking part who want to go on and play sports at higher level.
We also ran open play sessions in West Bromwich. These multi-sport sessions allowed anyone to get involved and try a number of different sports in a relaxed environment. Our open play sessions are a chance for young people to be introduced to new sports and give the freedom to participate without pressure. They keep the team active too as the young people are always coming up with new ideas about how and what they want to play.
We held a similar multi-sports session in Wednesbury, and on this occasion young people from the My Bro project came along and joined in.
Dartmouth Park, next to Sandwell Valley Country Park, was the location for the majority of our core summer sports sessions. We were pleased to see a good mix of past participants and new people keen to get involved, which shows how popular our sessions are becoming. The young people who had previously attended were able to see how much they’d improved and were now taking more of a leadership role. We always encourage this, as developing skills in leadership is essential to enjoying team sports and supporting the personal development of young people.
What went well?
Anyone who knows sports is used to the unexpected, and the team adapted very well to everything that came their way – from the number of young people showing up (both more and less than expected) to the typical British summer that enjoys a good downpour! We also had some good challenges modifying the sessions to accommodate the different sports the young people wanted to play, as well as keeping them fresh and enjoyable.
‘The young people like to keep us on our toes with their suggestions of which sports they want to try! Our experience and the understanding of the young people, and the local area, means we were able to keep sessions fun and interactive.’
The team always enjoy having the opportunity to educate young people about different sports, particularly those they perhaps haven’t played before. We were pleased to see a good mix of female and male participants – it’s great to see everyone taking part together, learning how to play and the fundamentals of sports.
What have you learnt that will help in the future?
We hadn’t expected there to be such a lack of experience in sports that young people play. For example, we found that many of our participants had never played tennis or badminton. We’ve already made changes to our sessions to address this and will continue to improve our programmes to ensure we deliver a variety of activities.
Being able to think quickly and adapt a session to the unexpected is something we will always keep in mind. One session in Wednesbury had a much higher attendance than we expected so we changed the scheduled activities to a football match so that all of the young people could take part at the same time.
What are you plans for future activities?
BIGGER! We want to reach more young people and encourage them to come and get involved in our sports sessions. Our larger sports events always attract attention and we want to take advantage of this to create meaningful pathways. We know that those routes to reaching young people can be stronger and we want to be able to make that engagement easier.
Finally, the nature of sports means that we concentrate a lot on teamwork. This is important but we’d also like to progress our ability to care and cater for young people on an individual level.