Alberto Sánchez, Physical Education teacher for 5th and 6th Primary, Secondary and Baccalaureate, as well as sports coordinator and extracurricular tennis and basketball teacher at Agora International School Madrid, talks to us about sporting excellence, one of the key pillars of the NACE Schools educational project.
With a degree in Physical Education from the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid, he has worked as a Level 2 trainer with the Federación Española de Baloncesto and the Registro Profesional de Tenis. His passion for sport began at a young age and he has been involved in the world of sport ever since. One of his latest sporting experiences saw him participate in the organisation of the University Olympic Games Basketball Competition at the University of Gwanju, in South Korea – a two-week competition in which dozens of countries participated in 21 sports. Today, Alberto Sanchez will be talking to us about his experience as a Physical Education teacher at Agora International School Madrid.
Q: One of the key pillars of the NACE Schools educational project is co-curricular excellence, including sport. Why do you think that sporting activity is important in education?
A: Our pupils’ all-round education wouldn’t be complete if it didn’t encompass all aspects of personal development: cognitive, physical, artistic, social… and through sport, we work on them all. That’s why NACE places so much emphasis on sport. Proof of this is the promotion of these activities, such as the Olympic Games, one of the most important events of the academic year in which the best athletes from all our centres compete in a wide variety of sports. All of this takes place in an atmosphere of friendship and togetherness, something which makes this an unforgettable experience for our pupils.
Q: Which sports are offered at your centre?
A: In P.E classes, especially with the younger year groups, we play a lot of “pre-sport” games which require the children to develop and practise different sporting skills. These serve as the foundation for them to later learn to play the sports that we offer at the centre. The most popular are football, basketball and volleyball, and we also have other “alternative” options such as hockey, baseball, rugby, ultimate frisbee, dodgeball, badminton, ping-pong, tennis, dance and acrosport (in which teams perform acrobatics and arrange themselves in different formations), not forgetting, of course, the most important individual sports to develop good physical fitness: swimming and athletics, with the charity race for UNICEF as a standout event. Furthermore, over the course of the school year we go out hiking in the Sierra de Madrid, and have weeks of skiing in Andorra, during which time the pupils learn and improve their skiing and snowboarding skills. Another important event is the “Villaviciosa Sports Day”, in which each year group participates in a day of sporting activities with other children from all the schools in Villaviciosa, competing in a variety of sports depending on their age. To bring the school year to an end, we have our Sports Day as a final party in which pupils from the different year groups take part in competitions.
Our extracurricular activities at the school also include a wide variety of sporting activities. In the sports club our teams compete in the football, basketball and volleyball leagues in the Community of Madrid. In addition, we offer mini-tennis, tennis, children’s swimming, judo and chess classes, which complement this huge array of sports in which our pupils take part.
Q: What values do the pupils develop through sport, and how do these contribute to education?
A: An important social environment is recreated through sport, which contributes to the pupils’ education. The values of improvement, respect, togetherness, empathy, teamwork, communication, leadership, self-control, self-discipline, responsibility and self-esteem are instilled and developed in pupils. All this aims to boost physical and psychological well-being, in a playful atmosphere of enjoyment and personal satisfaction, in a creative use of leisure time.
Q: Do you think that sport goes beyond academic education and offers benefits on a personal level?
A: Of course. As I mentioned earlier, through sport we achieve personal and social benefits which are very important for pupils’ development, not just in their education but in the rest of their lives. As a sportsman or sportswoman, the bond that you create with your teammates, the experiences you go through and all you learn is something that you never forget. It will help you throughout the rest of your life.
Q: Could you tell us about some of the initiatives that you have implemented in your department to motivate pupils to take part in sport?
A: Over the course of the school year, we try to make sure that all the pupils know about the great number of sporting activities and games. In this way, they can then choose the one they like best, the one which suits their skills. Other activities such as hiking excursions, skiing week, the charity race, the NACE Olympic Games, the sports events, etc., motivate them a great deal.
Outside the P.E classes, as extracurricular activities for the youngest pupils we have introductory sports schools for football, basketball and volleyball, which motivate them to learn more about a sport and then go on to compete with the school’s sports teams. We also have tennis, judo and chess classes, in which they can also compete. Competition is one of the most motivating factors for pupils when it comes to taking part in sport. They all love to compete and take a starring role in the weekend matches.
Q: In what aspects do you think NACE Schools differ from other conventional schools when it comes to sport?
A: Most of all, in the importance given to sport as another aspect of a pupil’s all-round education. At NACE Schools, sport is not just a part of the subject of Physical Education, but a very important activity present in many other moments throughout a pupil’s school life. We dedicate a lot of effort and enthusiasm to all the sporting events that we organise and the competitions in which we take part. Our pupils enjoy it all very much, and gain unforgettable experiences and knowledge.
Q: What proposals and new developments will you be offering in the 2015-2016 academic year in terms of sport?
A: In P.E classes, we want to continue offering a great variety of sports as a base for future specialisation. We will use the competitions in class and in free time to encourage greater participation in sport, as well as all the excursions, events and competitions that we can take part in. The coming academic year coincides with the Rio de Janeiro 2016 Olympic Games, so the Olympic movement will be a good starting point for the creation of good sports proposals for our students.
Regarding extracurricular activities, the sports club is continuing to grow both in terms of the number of teams and the categories that we participate in. I should point out that this year we will have teams in 4 categories of the Madrid Football Federation, from the very youngest in the “prebenjamin” category (1st and 2nd Primary), to the Junior Category of 1st and 2nd ESO, including all the Primary year groups. Of course, we also have the basketball and volleyball teams which compete in the Madrid leagues.
Q: How would you define sport at Agora International School Madrid?
A: As an area which is incredibly important in the pupils’ all-round education, and which offers a very wide range of sporting opportunities to meet the needs of all our students.
Q: Have you achieved any important awards in sport?
A: The competitive levels of our teams are good, and this year the the Girls U16 Volleyball Team (in the “cadete” category) were the runners up in the Madrid League and in the Trofeo Copa de Primavera (the Spring Cup). In terms of individual sports, several pupils won medals in the Judo Federation Tournaments which took place in Villaviciosa de Odón, Fuenlabrada and Getafe. And in tennis, two 2nd ESO pupils, Isabel and Lucía, reached the Madrid final. The winner, Lucía, went on to compete in the Community of Madrid final, where she achieved second place. We also can’t forget about the pupils who competed in the NACE Olympic Games and achieved 21 trophies in different events, such as athletics, basketball, volleyball and football.
In addition, something of which we are incredibly proud is the diploma awarded to us by UNICEF in recognition of our collaboration in their campaigns, taking part in the now traditional charity race “Gotas para Níger” (Drops for Niger) in which pupils, families and friends of the school all participated.
Q: Lastly, what are the most positive aspects for you of being a P.E teacher at Agora International School Madrid?
A: Dedicating my work to teaching, promoting the importance of sport and seeing how the pupils grow and develop is very rewarding. I owe a large part of who I am to sport, and what better way to show my appreciation than by helping to make sure that it continues to be an important activity in education and in the lives of all our pupils and people with whom I am lucky enough to share my work at this school.