New sport for Suffolk schoolchildren

Schoolchildren in Ipswich could soon be playing tchoukball in their PE lessons after their teachers were trained in the fast-paced indoor handball sport.

Schoolchildren in Ipswich could soon be playing tchoukball in their PE lessons after their teachers were trained in the fast-paced indoor handball sport.

Last year the Tchoukball Association of Great Britain set-up a campaign called 'New Year, New Sport', a project which aims to introduce the relatively unknown sport into the nation's schools.

That goal moved one stage closer to bearing fruition recently when elite tchoukball players from the hugely successful Sudbury club trained teachers from every middle and secondary school in the Westbourne School Sports partnership.

Project leader Andrew St Ledger said: “Tchoukball is a perfect school sport, it is massively inclusive. “Because it is non-contact both boys and girls can play together, while because it is new everybody starts on a level playing field. The less sporty children won't be alienated.


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“Eventually we would like to see tchoukball become part of school PE lessons. Already the exam board Edexcel have said they will include it if enough children are interested in it.”

Westbourne School Sports Partnership's Stuart Moore has been the first project development manager in Suffolk to embrace the sport.

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Having secured lottery funding money to buy equipment, Moore organised the teacher training session at Westbourne Sports College recently.

He said: “We are always trying to promote sports that are different to the children's usual diet of curriculum activities.

“Hopefully, with the teachers having experienced and been trained in the sport themselves, they will now go away enthused by it.”

St Ledger said: “Wherever we go the children love it, getting them interested is the easy bit. The difficult bit is getting the skill base out there and persuading the teachers. They are the lynchpin to all of this.”

Invented in the late 1960s, tchoukball, which is primarily played in indoor sports halls, has been described as the fastest handball sport in the world.

Points are scored in a match by participants propelling the ball off of an angled trampoline, the ball having to hit the floor before an opposition player catches it.

To shoot, players must have both feet off the ground when the ball is released, while they must also jump from outside the 'D' that surrounds the frame.

Matches, which are usually played on a nine-a-side basis, can see both sides score at either end of the court.

Those interested in giving the sport a try can come along to a Claydon Tchoukball Club training session.

The sessions, which are run by Great Britain international Mel Hibberd, are for over-14s only and take place at Claydon Sports Centre on a Thursday night between 6-7pm.

The next session is on February 21 and will be free to those attending for the first time.

With tchoukball ready to hit schools across Suffolk, you could help improve the sport in this area by voting online for the New Year, New Sport campaign.

Every year Norwich Union's Join Our Team scheme allows sporting projects to put their case forward to secure different levels of funding from their community sports fund.

Each project's cause is put online where members of the public can cats a free vote in their favour.

With regional winners securing £12,500 and the national winner taking £50,000, your vote could make a real difference to the New Year, New Sport campaign.

To register your free, quick and easy vote, visit www.joinourteam.com.

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