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I had a belief that we needed to put archery back into schools, but this is a huge task and needed a plan. At the same time I was sat talking to my friend, who is an Archery GB ambassador and she had a similar focus. Accessibility and inclusion are a big drive behind this focus for us both.
In May 2021 she took a call from Northamptonshire Sports to ask about getting archery into 6 secondary schools for 6 weeks. With some intense planning due to the time constraints and last-minute workforce issues we achieved that aim. However, the money that had been provided was discussed and a bigger plan formed. Instead of 6 weeks how about using the money to provide each school with kit, train a member of staff to become an Archery GB instructor and this could see sustainable archery in the schools for all pupils not just the initial group.
By the end of October each school had been provided with exactly that – 12 weeks of supplied coaching, kit and a workforce. This also created calls from primary schools, additional secondary schools, home education families and alternate provision tutors.
We had many conversations whilst we looked ahead at ideas we had started but then put on hold due to the pandemic and how we could move this all forward. Meetings with the national governing body to discuss our plans and ideas and how we wanted to take this forward.
So we are here, launching our biggest project which is a combination of different plans we had, to form a sustainable project to put archery into the hands of any child regardless of their education environment.
The John Leader Project is created around the principle that we can create and support a workforce to provide archery and also support the children who want to progress in the sport who may not have the funds available to continue in the sport without some backing.
Northamptonshire has become the pilot and quick figures after 9 months are:
- 8 secondary schools and 2 primary schools have sustainable archery.
- We have helped create 4 additional events to bring sport to the community.
- We have a weekly session for children educated outside of school settings.
- We have 3 satellite clubs.
- We have trained 10 AGB instructors and another 3 are in the process, and we have just seen 2 sessions coaches pass their assessments.
You want some numbers?
In those 10 months we have put a bow in the hands of 590 people and of those 152 are now in a weekly sustainable archery session, with 29 coaches from instructor to senior coach levels, 5 clubs and 2 ambassadors.
Our aim now?
To roll out nationally under agreement with Archery GB, create a workforce to provide the opportunity to take the sport out into those areas we are work in without and in a way that we all put back into grassroots sport to support those children going forward.