Freestyle Football Tricks Help Develop Literacy Skills

Football isn’t often associated with reading and writing but since November the motivational power of the nation’s favourite sport has been used to develop Princethorpe pupil’s literacy skills. 20 Year 8s have enjoyed taking part in the National Literacy Trust’s ‘Skills Academy’, a ten-week initiative that uses the excitement of football and freestyle ball tricks to motivate pupils to improve their literacy skills.

Over the course of the programme pupils have developed their comprehension skills including questioning, clarifying, summarising, predicting and inferring, learnt new vocabulary and improved their confidence in reading. As they progressed through the ‘Skills Academy’ they have also unlocked exclusive video tutorials from top freestyle footballers, teaching ball tricks such as the ‘rocket launcher’.

The project has been very successful with pupils’ motivation and enjoyment of reading increasing. After all their hard work, and as a reward, on Tuesday 30 January the pupils had the chance to put their new football skills into action in a special training session run by Sky Blues in the Community coaches Chloe Debaes and Callum Ingram. The coaches organised two hours of skills, drills and mini-matches. During the intensive session pupils practised basic passing, one twos, stop and goes, turning, dummy shots and headers, played mini four-a-side games with no goalies and finished with relay races. Some even enjoyed showing off their newly learnt freestyle tricks to the admiring coaches.

Louise Dennis, Education Manager, commented, “We are delighted to work with Princethorpe College and support their ‘Skills Academy’ literacy project. It was brilliant to see the children having fun learning football skills and to know that football is changing attitudes towards reading, and helping them to develop important literacy skills.”

College Librarian, Celia Scott added, “The Skills Academy has really engaged pupils. All of the material is about football and makes interesting reading for pupils. Its approach builds confidence by breaking reading into manageable chunks, making it less daunting. We have even welcomed footballs into the library and the pupils have enjoyed learning the freestyle tricks,” she continued, “We really appreciate Sky Blues in the Community football coaches coming into school to run this special end of programme reward session for us. It helps reinforce the importance of literacy skills.”