Rob Rooksby, Jon Wyse and Football America’s David Hagger attended the Youth Sport Trust Conference at the Ricoh Stadium on Wednesday 1st March. This is the Trust’s premier event which followed its Awards dinner the night before (with guests Kate Richardson-Walsh, GB’s gold medal winning hockey captain, and the record-breaking Rannoch women’s transatlantic rowers) and was attended by the full range of school sports professionals.
The Conference’s key-note speakers were Jez Rose (behaviour expert), Sir David Carter (National Schools Commissioner) and Martin Glenn (the FA’s CEO). There were many interesting and valuable workshops run throughout the day by recognised specialists in their fields.
With BAFA’s stand in an excellent location, being centrally situated in the main exhibition hall, it attracted much attention throughout the day from School Games Organisers, teachers, delegates and other exhibitors. A genuine interest and surprising knowledge about the sport was shown and there is every indication that this interest and engagement will lead to American Football becoming securely established as a fully-integrated school sport.
For National Leagues clubs, this remains a golden opportunity to get involved with this major step forward in youth football. Supporting it through current BAFA initiatives (i.e. the ‘School Games Friendly’ logo scheme and the ‘Drive 2 to the 10’), especially as these acknowledge the limitations of the time and resources that clubs are working with but which will bring maximum benefits for minimal engagement for the clubs.
Overall, an exhausting few days but a fantastic and productive event with many new connections made and further meetings and events already planned.