School children from all over South Yorkshire had been taught basketball skills by Sheffield Sharks players in the run-up to the ‘Respect’ event at the English Institute of Sport today.
The skills sessions had been held alongside workshops focussing on social issues.
The ‘Respect’ project, led by the South Yorkshire Housing Association, has been teaching sports and life skills to children across the region for the past seven years.
Joel Mills, operation manager at the Sheffield Sharks, said: “We ran the project in deprived areas across Barnsley, Rotherham and Sheffield.
“We wanted to encourage children to take part in positive, healthy activities.
“We chose basketball because there’s a lot of evidence that it helps children from deprived areas. Many of the professional players come from similar backgrounds.”
The children, who were year six pupils aged 10 and 11, received six hours of coaching from the professional basketball players.
Alongside the basketball coaching, children took part in two hour workshops which dealt with topics such as fire safety, bullying, online safety, first aid and antisocial behaviour.
The ‘Respect’ project has helped around 6,000 pupils since it started in 2009.
It has been so successful that it won the National Housing Federation Community Impact award in 2013.
This year, the project was run in 10 schools and involved around 600 children.
Some 100 children took part in the tournament today from schools including Arbourthorne Primary School, Phillimore Primary and Springfield Primary School in Sheffield.
Joel said: “The event was a great success.
“The kids had a lot of fun. We had children from different backgrounds and different ethnicities mingling and I think that’s the real strength of the project.
“Looking forward, we want to get more primary schools involved. We’d also like to branch out to secondary schools.
“However, we will have to secure more funding to do that.”