Oxfordshire schoolchildren combine matches with brain power at special training ground tournament

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14th December 2023

Scores of Oxfordshire schoolchildren had a day to remember at Oxford United’s training ground when participating in a regional tournament organised by the club’s official charity.

Oxford United in the Community hosted five schools and over 60 pupils at its inaugural Premier League Girls’ Tournament and EFL Kids Cup, the winners of which will go on to represent the U’s badge in a southern area competition.

Haddenham Junior, Tackley Primary School, St Edburgs, Windmill Primary School and St John Fisher all swapped classrooms for United’s 3G training pitches for the day as part of the charity’s work to inspire happier, healthier and better-connected communities.

There was a special appearance too from Football on the Brain – a four-year University of Oxford project funded by the Wellcome Trust – who explored how the brain adapts when playing, risk-taking and decision-making, and how fitness and memory are connected

Lead Community Coach Rob Porter was also pitch side identifying male and female players of noticeable talent who may consider joining the charity’s invitation-only Development Centre.

Cameron Hughes, Premier League Primary Stars Programme Manager at Oxford United in the Community, organised the event.

He said: “We were really encouraged by the enthusiasm and teamwork participants displayed on the day and thank each school for their engagement with our male and female tournaments.

“Blending competitive matches with educational workshops via Football on the Brain meant players could combine their skills on the pitch with alternative thinking off it which is what we wanted to achieve.

“Enhancing the provision of football in educational environments is a key part of our work and our coaches loved welcoming each team to the training ground for an alternative day outside pupils’ usual surroundings.”

Joining Oxford United in the Community coaches on the day were four guests from the charity’s partners Football on the Brain who delivered four individual workshops.

Sessions included learning more about how the brain works when vision is distorted, a fitness and memory test, risk-taking balloon exercises and understanding which part of a person’s brain works during specific times of a football match.

Hanna Smyth, Public Engagement Officer at Football on the Brain, added: “It can be easy to underestimate the role of the brain and how players can use neuroscience knowledge to improve their skill learning and overall health.

“We developed lots of exciting activities for participants at Oxford United in the Community’s school tournament which was great to be a part of. We’re passionate about engaging with players, coaches, and fans to explore how neuroscience relates to football, and we enjoy working with a range of local and national football partners to do so.

“Hopefully some of the new skills learnt by pupils can now be applied in the real world!”

Further information about Oxford United in the Community’s school programmes including Premier League Primary Stars and After School Club delivery is available online via the charity’s website – www.ouitc.org.

Oxfordshire schools interested in partnering with the charity are invited to learn more by emailing [email protected].

Further information about Football on the Brain is available online via www.footballonthebrain.uk.


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