Award-winning Let’s Play turns ten

2015-11-11 06:00
LET’S PLAY participants in full swing. Photos: Supplied

LET’S PLAY participants in full swing. Photos: Supplied

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FRESH off winning the Youth Development Category of the Mail & Guardian Investing in the Future Awards 2015, SuperSport celebrated its tenth anniversary on 5 November.

Last week, Let’s Play was on hand to accept the prestigious award in Sandton. This premier award was created 27 years ago to publicise the often unsung contributions to the future of South Africa and its citizens.

Broadly intended to get South African children active, Let’s Play has grown from humble beginnings and is now entrenched in schools, suburbs and townships across the country. Let’s Play engages with hundreds of thousands of children every week, with 2 000 coaches spread across more than 2 500 schools in the nine provinces. By any measure, that is an enormous reach and credit to Let’s Play’s energetic supporters.

Let’s Play’s continued success is due to a number of factors, especially the support of donors and sponsors. Moreover, endorsements from the Departments of Sport and Recreation as well as Basic Education, and a vibrant working relationship with the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef), give it the muscle to reach its ambitions.

Vaughn Bishop, who heads the campaign, summed up the rationale behind Let’s Play: “Children are faced with many negative influences due to a lack of social engagement and opportunities for play. I believe that sport can make a significant difference in lifestyle and behaviour change, and provide both hope and purpose to the children of South Africa.

“However, it is clear that no single individual or organisation has the ability to resolve the great challenges facing our children and, in this context, the importance of building partnerships and promoting strategic corporate investment in their development is crucial to making a lasting difference.”

In celebration of the ten years of getting children active, Let’s Play launched the Schools Physical Education Challenge, which is arguably the biggest schools sporting event to date. The Challenge was a nationwide event initially targeted at ten- and 11-year-olds from 500 of South Africa’s primary schools.

The main objective of the Challenge is to reinforce the instruction of curriculum-oriented physical education and to promote physical activity in all schools. Some 403 650 learners were exposed to physical education, while 38 297 learners competed in the Challenge.

On Let’s Play’s birthday on 5 November, the fittest primary school per province competed for the title, with the grand prize, a R1,2 million all-purpose, all-weather multi-use sports court, to be built at the winning school. This coincided with a live studio audience comprising Let’s Play partners and sponsors.

Five particular milestones highlight Let’s Play’s history:
) Winner of the Mail & Guardian Investing in the Future Award in 2008, 2012 and 2015, and winner of the Sports Industry Awards in 2010 and a finalist in 2014.
)
Launched in Nigeria in 2011 and Kenya in 2014.
)
Let’s Play was presented as a case study at the International Olympic Committee World Conference on Sport for All in Peru in 2013.
)
The Let’s Play schools rugby project partnered eight rugby unions, reaching 450 primary schools with 15 000 boys and girls.
)
Let’s Play was appointed best practice case study on how to implement and sustain sport in schools at the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc) national conference in 2015. This is all positive proof of the power and goodness of the Let’s Play project.

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