As for everyone since the lockdown started, it has been a rough ride. Some of our coaches remain frontline, helping the schools to stay open for key workers and the vulnerable children who need them the most.
But for many it has thrown a complete roadblock against our work as a charity. An immediate cut-off to the Coaches’ work and those that depend on us. From one day working with more than 7,000 vulnerable young Londoners to almost overnight every sports hall being closed and mid season young peoples’ sporting dreams and ambitions dashed.
But it has become a source of pride.
Pride in our coaches for how they have responded and their quick thinking to get coaching sessions online, and their determination to keep these kids and families healthy and active through this time has been incredible. With that we are proud to launch our #HomeCoach campaign which will run throughout the lockdown, delivering regular online coaching to the young people that need us.
We know that the youngsters working with our coaches are active because their Coach inspires them to be active. We will send sport specific content to their inbox and their feeds and to check in with them throughout this time so they know they are not alone.
And the inspiration is the youngsters who have responded, sometimes in incredible ways. This brilliant video was made by some of our youngest participants, in isolation. As the very youngest of them says in his poster: ‘Social distancing is not going to stop us being a TEAM.’
On a usual Monday morning our coaches are working before breakfast, spread out across London in schools and in the Greenhouse Centre running sports sessions for their young groups. That’s thousands of 12-16 year-olds working out before the school day. Getting them engaged, active, confident. For some of these young people, the sessions can be the single reason they keep coming to school.
Suddenly Coaches can’t do their work. The kids isolated at home now unable to see and speak with a source of stability and trust and fun for young lives with many challenges. No group sessions together, no training, no games, no one-on-one mentoring. Contact ceased. One day a kid comes to school just so he can see you every day and then he has no form of contact with you.
In the last week, our coaches have mobilised. They have taken the complete and frightening disruption and isolation of Covid-19 and have tried to make a positive impact for their young people. On old iPhones and iPads, propped up against sinks in the bathroom and chairs in the back yard, they are filming themselves; speaking to camera, encouraging positivity, setting tasks – fitness sessions, training tips, advice – table tennis on kitchen tables, basketball against a back wall. It’s uncomfortable for some, and there are no Oscars here – the gym and court is their space, not performing to a beaten-up phone. But they are getting on with it, hoping they are getting through to their kids via social media and school systems.
With #HomeCoach, social media and school link systems have become our Coaches’ office, and the playbook is whatever prop the Coach can find in their homes. Our Volleyball Coach Luca is on our #HomeCoach YouTube playlist every day, and her participants are responding on the school’s ShowMyHomework system, giving their own tips and workouts, from front rooms and hallways across east London. ‘Hi Miss Toth I did the spiking training it was a bit difficult but did it. For the challenge I got 6 inside a box’…..’It was really fun and I learnt a lot of things from the video and it gave me a booster of energy because I am staying home because of the virus’……’It went great! I even tried it out with my family!’
You can help the Coaches too in many ways. Follow us on social, give them a like, share it around. You can view our #HomeCoach YouTube playlist here.
During these months, inequality is increasing, as young people in poorer parts of London will sadly see themselves slip further behind their better off peers during the period.
Greenhouse Sports needs to continue to support these kids to stay engaged with their school work as well as their physical wellbeing. Our work will be even more important than it is now when schools re-open. You can donate to support our vital work here
Thank you and stay safe.