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18 Oct 2007

As it celebrates its first anniversary, an innovative school sport scheme is celebrating reaching another significant milestone as it was announced that 50% of all secondary schools in Wales have signed up to the 5x60 programme.

5x60 Logo

Since its launch in October 2006, the Welsh Assembly Government’s £7.6million 5x60 scheme – which is managed by the Sports Council for Wales – has successfully helped to transform the playing fields and sports halls of secondary schools into hubs of bustling activity from daybreak to nightfall.

During year one, thirty-nine schools were involved in the programme. And as the bell tolled on the start of the new 2007/2008 term, a further 86 schools hopped on board. Some 4100 activity sessions took place in the first 39 schools over the course of last year involving 18,500 participants.

Football, basketball and table tennis sit at the top of the roster of most requested sporting activities for boys with dance, football and basketball proving most popular for girls.

Minister for Sport Rhodri Glyn Thomas AM was today on hand at the lunchtime dance session at Ysgol Gyfun Bro Morgannwg in Barry and has high hopes for the future of the scheme.

Rhodri Glyn Thomas, the Sports Minister said:

"Just over a year since its launch, 5x60 is now being delivered in more than 50% of the secondary schools in Wales and we're on course to extend the programme to all secondary schools in the next twelve months."

"The success of 5x60 is not only in the number of additional young people now enjoying a variety of extra-curricular activities but also in the positive way it is being used to teach new skills, such as becoming qualified young leaders. I am confident that 5x60 will continue to have a positive impact on school sport, and will help young people to become the leaders and coaches of the future."

"Its school report would say, 5x60 has made a very good start and I expect a lot more good things in the future."

Armed with a blank sheet of paper and a multitude of dynamic ideas the pupils themselves are deciding upon the type of activities that they would enjoy participating in.

The ultimate aim is to encourage those who do not take part in sport to dust off their trainers and get active. When pupils are faced with barriers to inactivity, 5x60 officers are on hand to listen to concerns and to help overcome any hurdles.

Activities to be provided through 5x60 are based on those available in the local area. Outdoor and adventure activities such as surfing and climbing, recreational activities such as aerobics and martial arts, as well as the more outlandish pursuits like cheerleading, dodge ball and trampolining are now freely available in secondary schools across the nation.

Rhodri Glyn Thomas AM at Ysgol Gyfun Bro Morgannwg

Over 550 young people have now been developed as young 5x60 leaders who work under the guidance of full-time 5x60 officers to deliver a variety of activities in every local authority.

The leaders have been rewarded and encouraged to continue their development by focusing on a level one award in an array of sports. This year, the aim is to offer them the opportunity to attend national governing body bolt on courses and work with the coaches within the sports clubs in their areas to aid their future development as sports leaders.

By 2009 it is expected that fully trained 5X60 officers will be deployed into every secondary school in Wales – each fully equipped to coordinate the new secondary school specific extra-curricular programme that will take place before school, at lunch time, after school and at the weekends.

With a greater influx of schools into the scheme, it is anticipated that more inter-school competitions will take place and more exit routes put in place for those pupils eager to graduate and test our their talents in sports clubs in their areas. A focus will also be put on developing and coordinating more employment opportunities for coaches.

Chair of the Sports Council for Wales, Philip Carling is encouraged by progress to date and the positive outlook for the future.

"With 50% of secondary schools now on board it is evident that 5x60 has made a very significant contribution towards the delivery of physical activity in secondary schools.

"Participation in the programme has also helped schools to offer a wider range of activities and these figures are a clear demonstration that providing sporting opportunities - be it on a competitive or purely recreational level at a young age - provides the textbook foundation for active lifestyles in adulthood."