Former City and Islington College student gives school pupils a sporting chance during pandemic

A former student at City and Islington College has been boosting children’s mental health through sport during the coronavirus pandemic.

Ross McCarthy, 24, has worked as a Sports Coach with Badu Sports since achieving triple distinction on a Sports Science diploma at the college in 2015.

He returned to education part time in September 2019 and is studying for a BA (Hons) in Early Childhood Studies at London Metropolitan University.

Badu Sports works with schools and the community to provide physical education and mentoring to improve children’s skills and support their development.

Ross provides sports coaching and mentoring for children at St Matthias Church of England Primary School in Stoke Newington, five days a week.

He explained how COVID-19 had affected the children and how his work with Badu Sports had helped them during the crisis to develop physically and in the classroom.

He said: “Lockdown had a huge impact on the children. They were tired and their concentration was low because they had not been able to go out and be active.

“Taking part in sport and exercise has really helped them. Within three weeks the teachers told me they were more alert in lessons and their work had improved.

“I’ve tried to be a rock for them during the pandemic as they slowly get back to their usual routine again. Everyone at the school is working hard to get them back to the level they were at or even better.”

Ross has also undertaken courses in football coaching and fitness instructing, and in his spare time he plays football for the Badu Sports team and goes to the gym regularly.

He said: “Keeping your mind and body active is good for mental health. It makes you happy and is a good stress reliever. It gives you a freedom to forget about your worries. There is no better feeling.”

Ross, who is from Hackney, is studying his degree part-time to enable him to continue working with Badu Sports and fulfil his aspiration to become a teacher.

“The course at CANDI was amazing and I enjoyed every minute of it. Every module was exciting, and it made me love sport so much more,” said Ross.

“I’ve recommended it to so many people and hope to come back one day to see my old teachers, who all wanted their students to do their best.

“One of them said I would be a teacher one day and I laughed, but how right he was.”

Badu Sports provides sport and mentoring to 22,000 young people aged three to 19 in Hackney, Islington Haringey and Tower Hamlets.

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