Ilkley Grammar School approached the Academy, with the intention to provide coaches and facilities for over 300 year five and six children of the six local primary schools that feed into them. The sessions would be held on a full day at their playing fields in the heart of the Pennines.
The Head of Physical Education at the Grammar School and also the Sports Coordinator for all the feeder primary schools, Mr Peter Blackwell, asked the Leeds Academy of American Football to provide an appropriate version of the sport for the children and also requested resources to handle a class size of 30 pupils with a 40 minute window of opportunity. Each group rotated stations then, so that everyone had a chance to sample every sport.
The Academy Lead Coordinator, Dale Bottomley, and three of his qualified coaching staff, Connah Scholes, Lysander Code and Mathew Drinkall set out to deliver a session that would cover as much of an experience of the sport of American Football as is possible in the short time provided. This included the wearing of helmet and pads for the first section of the session, a lesson in how to hold, throw and catch the ball. The helmet and pads, balls and all equipment were provided by the Academy.
The children then progressed into a drill where they ran patterns as receivers, with the incentive of running for the touchdown on completion of the pass. The children were encouraged to have fun with this and invent a unique celebration on arrival in the end zone.
The children were then introduced to Flag Football, shedding their helmet and pads and equipping themselves with flag belts, they were split into offensive and defensive units, with two consecutive drills occurring alongside each other. Here they were introduced to the skills of running with the ball and open field “tackling”, by approaching, breaking down at the opponent and going for the flag.
Finally, the children were gathered together at the end of the session and asked about what they enjoyed, what was difficult and then huddled in to “BREAK” for the session. At the end of a long day, prizes, including apparel supplied by the NFL as part of their PLAY60 scheme were given to pupils who excelled in the sessions.