Tees Better Future Fund grant award to Sports Connections Foundation (SCF)

In 2023, our Tees Better Future Fund granted Sports Connections Foundation (SCF) £5,000 to help fund their project, which supports the good health & well-being of children and young people through sport and physical activity.

SCF embarked on an ambitious summer sports programme for primary school-aged children. Using Great Berry Primary School in Basildon as a base, SCF organised multiple sports sessions (involving hundreds of children), with an emphasis on football. This was delivered by former professional footballer and manager, Paul Brush. SCF’s unique sporting offer is to work with a variety of professional athletes to develop young sporting leaders in communities. SCF recognises that many families are unable to send their children to sports camps during the summer, but initiatives such as ‘Inspire Through Sport’ make this possible.

Amongst other activities, SCF delivered their infamous ‘Pro Kick Challenge’ for the whole school. To complete the challenge, the children attended a session where SCF founder and former professional footballer, Junior McDougald, spoke about the importance of community and supporting each other and children across the world. The children then had lots of fun taking penalty kicks in the inflatable goals, where their shot speed was recorded. The cheers from the children in the school hall were deafening - even the teachers joined in, much to the amusement and joy of the children!

The project promoted children participating in healthy activities and having fun, whilst also helping them to learn the importance of supporting each other and the community around them. The project also improved the children’s confidence and self-esteem, whilst helping them to develop invaluable leadership skills and build their resilience. The children enjoyed being taught by inspirational, famous sportspeople who are highly qualified in their field. One of the project's main values and aims is total inclusivity, and observers at the school told SCF that children who didn’t normally take an interest in sports thoroughly enjoyed being involved in the project.

Charlie Neal, a member of the Tees Community Involvement Development Board, attended one of the ‘Inspire Through Sport’ sessions and said, ‘It was an honour to see first-hand just how amazing the work is that SCF carries out in our local communities and how valuable it is for the children involved. Led by Paul Brush, the sports camp provided a fun, yet educational platform for the children to develop both their footballing and communication skills further. We are proud to have supported such a crucial project through the Better Future Fund and we look forward to backing similar initiatives that help our local communities in the future.’

Junior McDougald, Founder of Sports Connections Foundation said, ‘We are very grateful to the ‘Tees better Future Fund’, it enabled us to deliver fantastic sporting and educational outcomes for hundreds of children in Basildon. As a children’s charity, we utilise professional sportspeople and young community ambassadors to help inspire the next set of sporting leaders in the community. It was amazing to see so many happy children at our summer camp at Great Berry Primary School this year.'

Damien Pye, Great Berry Headteacher said ‘SCF have delivered the pro kick challenge to over 420 children from 4 years to 11 in the Tees Better Future Fund project, it didn’t matter whether they were into sports they all had a great time. I could hear the loud cheering and them supporting each other from my office all day. It’s a brilliant inclusive activity that teaches the children so many important life values using sport as an inspirational tool.'

A great Berry Pupil said, ‘I loved taking part in the pro kick challenge, it was great fun, It also taught us about supporting each other and what we can do for other children in poorer places around the world’.

Sports Connections Foundation is a charity, that uses the positive power of sport to engage, motivate, and inspire children & young people who are disadvantaged, hard to reach or at risk.'

Sports Connection Foundation's current programmes are: 

  • Inspire Through Sport - provides sport-inspired youth work and sports camps, coaching and mentoring for children and young people
  • ProKick Schools Challenge - provides primary schools with an inspirational football-related sponsored activity
  • Inspire Through Sport International - provides funding and vital educational resources to an impoverished orphanage and a nursery in Burkina Faso, Africa
  • Sporting Wishes - special sporting memories visiting flagship sporting events for children with life-limiting conditions.

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