Virgin Media is launching the Virgin Media Football Academy, a series of lesson plans, training videos and a special live lesson designed with experts from the famed Southampton FC Academy to help teachers and pupils bounce back into physical education after months of school closures due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Virgin Media, working in collaboration with the National Schools Partnership (NSP), has provided hundreds of schools across the UK with pre-prepared football-focused lesson plans and video tutorials to keep schoolchildren active and reduce teachers’ workload following the reopening of schools in March.
The lessons will focus on key football skills as well as nutrition and mental wellbeing – all delivered by a team of professional coaches and sport scientists working at Saints’ academy at Staplewood. All of the lesson plans will be available to download for free online so schools and families can access the sessions anytime.
As part of the Virgin Media Football Academy, Virgin Media will also power a live-streamed football lesson to hundreds of classrooms throughout the country on Wednesday 28 April.
Southampton players including club captain and England international James Ward-Prowse and Theo Walcott – both graduates of Southampton’s Academy – as well as manager Ralph Hasenhüttl and Saints coaches, will lead live drills to get schoolchildren active.
The live lesson – powered by Virgin Media broadband – will see thousands of schoolchildren of all ages come together in a virtual environment to take part in a once in a lifetime experience, led by elite athletes and coaches.
During the virtual lesson, which will be hosted by broadcaster Rachel Stringer and Joel Beya of CheekySport, players and coaches will be able to interact directly with pupils. And to ensure that schoolchildren look the part, Virgin Media is providing 800 free Southampton FC shirts to local schools in Hampshire.
Ralph Hasenhüttl, manager of Southampton FC, said: “The Saints academy has a long and proud history of producing some of the best footballing talent in the country and is something that we’re proud of as a club. Helping schools by contributing to the Virgin Media Football Academy is a great thing and we’re excited to see thousands of schoolchildren in our live lesson on the 28 April.”
James Ward-Prowse, Captain of Southampton FC, said: “As a graduate of the Saints academy, I know from first hand experience the benefits of the incredible team at Staplewood. It’s brilliant that we’re able to open up the experience of the coaches and experts to help schools across the country and encourage kids to be active.”
Cilesta Van Doorn, Executive Director of Brand and Marketing at Virgin Media said “For children from all backgrounds, staying active has been challenging due to the Covid-19 pandemic and that is why we’re using our connectivity to open up the world-renowned Southampton FC Academy to classrooms across the country and help schools bounce back stronger. The Virgin Media Football Academy provides easy to use online resources to schools which will help give schoolchildren the impetus to get active and, most importantly, have some fun!”
Virgin Media Football Academy and the impact of Covid-19 on physical education
Research by BBC Newsround on Coronavirus and UK Kids concluded that, during the Covid-19 pandemic, there had been a marked decrease in physical education for school-age children with 57% of young people saying they had done less exercise than normal since the first nationwide lockdown.
Additionally, in the last year, the number of children meeting the recommended 60+ minutes of daily physical activity has dropped from 47% to 19%, demonstrating a clear need to help get children across the country exercising again as lockdown restrictions start to ease. For girls especially, the latest Women in Sport research showed that 82% of girls are saying they will put more effort into being active when restrictions are lifted.
That is where the Virgin Media Football Academy is looking to help students and teachers with the provision of pre-prepared football-focused lesson plans and video tutorials.
In addition to the live lesson on Wednesday 28 April, the online resources include structured lessons on four key areas of football; dribbling; passing and control; nutrition; and mental wellbeing. As an additional learning resource, Virgin Media has created a series of demonstration videos with Southampton FC Women’s Coach Marieanne Spacey-Cale, the Women’s XI players and a team of professional coaches and sport scientists working at Saints’ academy at Staplewood.