Leon Bansal, RCT County Borough Council & Tonyrefail
"Sport often acts as an escape if a pupil is struggling at
school or is having personal difficulties. It takes your mind off
That's according to Leon Bansal - a 5 x 60 Officer at Tonyrefail
Comprehensive School who is motivating and encouraging pupils to
take part in extra-curricular sport.
He says sport is also a huge incentive for pupils to behave at
"I work with teachers and I will explain to pupils that if bad
behaviour continues, they won't be able to take part in the 5 x 60
clubs. It makes a huge difference. Teachers often tell me that it's
having a positive impact.
"If the kids are enjoying sport, they are more likely to attend
school too - because there is something to look forward to in their
And the good news is that more pupils are taking part than ever
before. Leon arrived in post in 2013 - just as the school received
the findings of Sport Wales' School Sport Survey:
"Like most schools, the survey showed that girls participation
was the lowest. I really wanted to get more girls involved so I
started football sessions at lunchtime for Year 7s. They really
bought into it and I still have a core group coming along now they
have moved up into Year 8.
"Lots of them just want to play at lunchtime or after school but
some want to take it further. So we've taken them to tournaments
where they've performed brilliantly.
"20 of the current Year 7s have never played for a team before
so together with the Community Sport Officer Scott Woodford, I'm
trying to set up a team in Tonyrefail so they can continue playing
Of course, the boys are not forgotten. Leon has introduced mixed
basketball and, with Scott, is setting up a link with local club
"Tonyrefail is a football and rugby sort of town so I thought it
would be good to offer something different. We run a lunchtime club
at the school, an after school club at the Leisure Centre and then
hopefully some of them will go on to play with the Tonyrefail
"The school is great at supporting me which helps my work have a
real impact in the School"
Leon is a firm believer that the sessions are having an impact
on health and wellbeing:
"There are some kids who come along and if they didn't do that
one hour exercise with us, they wouldn't do anything.
"We also see self-confidence improving, especially in our
Nurture Special Educational Needs group. In sport, you have to
communicate and work with others so it brings them out of their
shell. It's lovely to see such a change."
He is now set to start a Leadership programme, training up
pupils as Sports Leaders. And he is hoping he will be able to
recruit some volunteers to assist with lunchtime and after school
clubs. It certainly sounds as if he could do with a helping
The biennial School Sport Survey will go live again
in 2015. We want to see the many positive things that have
been born from the 2013 results continuing to develop. This
will not happen without as many children as possible completing the
survey again providing us with their much needed