They’re providing a sporting chance to youngsters across Kirklees and beyond.
Now Andy Gledhill and Antony Leech, of Huddersfield-based Project Sport, are delivering a packed summer schedule of sports-related activities for kids to enjoy during the long school holidays.
Community centres and sports clubs across the Colne and Holme valleys will host a series of summer camps in coming weeks where youngsters can kick the XboX into touch and try their hands at a range of sports, including cricket, football, tennis, dance and netball as well as less familiar activities including bushcraft and bubble sports.
Andy and Antony, both aged 29, recognise the importance of helping children get active – given current concerns about childhood obesity and how addiction to technology means too many youngsters spend too much of their time slumped on the sofa.
Project Sport, which they launched in September, 2009, provides coaching for schools as well as running breakfast clubs and after-school clubs throughout the year and summer camps during the holidays.
In a typical week, Andy, Antony and their team of 35 coaches work with about 1,500 youngsters – from nursery age jup to college and university level.
Says Andy: “When we first started, going into schools accounted for about 90% of what we did. Now it’s about 50% because we are doing so much work out of school hours.”
Andy and Antony first met at Greenhead College and both went on to take degrees in sport. Andy had attended Newsome High School at the time it became a sports college – a fact that fired his own interest in sport. Antony was a pupil at Holmfirth High School.
Andy gained his degree at the University of Central Lancashire while Antony graduated from Huddersfield University.
Says Andy: “After gaining our degrees we both got sports coaching jobs with Kirklees Council, going into schools. But we saw a gap in the market and decided to set up Project Sport.”
He says: “Schools are very aware of the importance of children keeping fit. PE lessons are at the forefront of the curriculum now, not just an afterthought.”
Once upon a time, games lessons were limited to football and cricket for the boys or hockey and netball for the girls,
That’s certainly all changed. Project Sport is introducing youngsters to exciting alternatives such as archery, fencing and bubble sports – where children get to play games such as football and ten pin bowling inside a giant bubble!
Efforts are also being made to increase the take-up of sport among girls. Says Antony: “We have just introduced a girls-only sports camp for this summer to give girls the opportunity to work with coaches. Sometimes, boys can make up 75% of those attending summer camps and the girls can get pushed out of things.”
Andy and Antony hope the exploits of the England women’s football team will encourage more girls to take up that particular sport.
Says Antony: “Schools have to show they are spending money on sport as well as academic subjects, which is where we come in. We have had outstanding review fron Ofsted for our work, which is a massive thing for us.”
Whatever the day brings for Andy and Antony, it’s bound to be varied.
Adds Antony: “There’s no escape from the texts and emails, either. One morning, we can be working with university students and a few hours later it could a group at a nursery. We are working in more than 60 schools in Kirklees as well as schools in Calderdale and Oldham.”
Since launchi9ng the business, Project Sport has taken on various projects and contracts with organisations as varied as the School Sport Partnership, Yorkshire Cricket Board, Sainsbury’s, The Youth Sport Trust and several local sports clubs.
The firm’s achievements also earned it a shortlisting in the 2010 Examiner Business Awards.
Andy adds: “We try to introduce a new sport each year, such as fencing or American football to provide something different.”
Says Antony: “When we introduced fencing, none of the children had any idea about it – so they were all on a level playing field. It provides a boost for those youngsters who might otherwise not play sports and certainly don’t join in with the local after-school football club.”
High-profile events such as Wimbledon, the Ashes cricket, the London Olympics and the Tour de France in Yorkshire can often create interest in lesser known sports. “Sports that were virtually non-existent – as far as the kids are concerned – are now very big,” says Andy.
Whatever the sport, Andy and Antony endeavour to make them both available and affordable. Their sheds and cellars at home double as storage space for a wide range of sporting equipment.
They also recognise the benefits that taking part in sport can have in building confidence and teamwork.
Project Sport’s team of coaches get coaching themselves – with courses in areas such as First Aid and health and safety as well as courses in coaching specific sports.
Andy and Antony’s days are packed with sporting action – and sport takes up most of their leisure time, too.
Antony has been playing for Emley FC for nine years. He modestly describes himself as a “utility” player but mainly finds a slot at full-back or in central midfield. Andy plays football for Upperthong and captains Armitage Bridge Cricket Club. Both Antony and Andy also play golf when they get the chance.
Andy and his partner Laura have a five-month-old daughter, Annie. The couple are looking forward to a well-deserved holiday in Spain this summer – sports camps permitting!
Antony is married to Holly and rates New Zealand as a favourite holiday destination.
Work: Sport in the community
Phone: 07986 219058 or 07719 698644