Sport is a vital part of life at Eaton House Belgravia. We believe that being regularly active enhances the children's physical and emotional health, and we ensure that all our pupils spend several hours in training each week.
The Pre-Prep boys are exposed to a wide variety of curricular and extracurricular sports. A combination of onsite PE lessons and offsite games and swimming sessions enables the boys to develop key sporting skills. Eaton House Schools is considered a very 'sporty' group of schools, perhaps due to the number of specialist and outside coaches we employ to improve the boys' skills and their sporting range.
The games we practise include cricket, tag rugby, cross-country, football, swimming, tennis and golf and a range of athletics, including track, long jump and high jump. There are clubs for a number of sports, including a pre-season cricket club and football club.
Colours are awarded for the highest levels of sporting achievement. Regardless of whether boys are awarded colours, we ask that they play with passion, commitment and team spirit. There are also plenty of sporting inter-house competitions including prizes for football, cross-country, cricket and sports day.
Sport helps the pupils' physical and emotional health as well as teaching them to be a part of a team representing the school and their house. Every boy joins in, and that is very important for building confidence, team spirit, sociability and overall house spirit.
Eaton House Belgravia Pre-Prep has access to swimming facilities, tennis courts and a golf course, and Battersea Park and Clapham Common for games.
In school, sport is centred on the house system and there are a number of house-specific competitions. Boys love to win points for their house and all the boys cheer each other on at all sporting events, which is a lovely feeling for the participating boys.
The Pre-Prep boys play tag rugby and it helps to develop running pace, coordination, spatial awareness and ball skills. They enjoy the sense of freedom that the game brings and it is a good preparation for rugby at senior school.
It is a minimal contact team game in which each player wears shorts with Velcro patches with two tags attached to them. The method of play is similar to rugby league, touch rugby or rugby sevens, with attacking players attempting to dodge, evade and pass a rugby ball while defenders attempt to prevent them scoring by 'tagging' – pulling a Velcro-attached tag from the ball carrier. The attacking team has six plays or tags to try to score a try or take the ball down field as close to the line as possible. Tries are worth one point and there are no conversions. The team scoring the most points will win the game.
There are a number of differences between the rules of tag and touch rugby. The main difference is a tag needing to be removed to constitute a tackle, as opposed to making a touch. The other main features of tag that are different to touch include kicking being allowed, the ball being allowed to touch the ground and a marker being allowed to stand in the ruck. This means the dummy half can score tries or be tagged.
A standard match is 40 minutes long, consisting of two 20-minute halves. All the boys participate in fixtures and tournaments and there are inter-house games.
Football is very popular at Eaton House Belgravia Pre-Prep and is wonderful for the boys' coordination, running skills, ball control and hand-eye movement. It is also teaches them the importance of team spirit and selflessness in service of the whole game.
The 2017 season kicked off brilliantly with the Year 3 A team coming second in the Sunningdale and third in the Summer Fields tournaments. More success followed, with two Year 3 mixed teams beating their parents 11-10 and 4-3 even though some of the fathers were undoubtedly trying their best!
Wall drills really helped as the season progressed, allowing Years 2 and 3 to improve their consistency.
Some ICT work in computer programming class helped raise the levels of positional and spatial awareness, and the season finished as strongly as it started, with our A team losing by the narrowest of margins to St Paul's, but comprehensively beating Papplewick by 2-0 and Westminster Under by a record 6-1.
Tristan Cooke, head of sports and ICT, wrote in Eaton House Schools' Column magazine that "it was a joy to behold the top teams playing with increasing interplay, with the ball all on the deck where possible, giving each other line of sight and drawing the opposition more effectively." He commented that teams supported each other "tirelessly" throughout and that it was marvellous to see their increasing maturity on the field.
The boys have started this year with equal enthusiasm. There is a popular after-school football club for those boys who enjoy the sport so much that they would like to take their game to a higher level.
The summer term brings the start of our summer cricket season and cricket is a very popular sport in the school. Improved running skills, batting skills, hand-eye co-ordination, catching skills and pace – these are just some of the benefits that this very enjoyable game brings.
Last year, Year 3 started the season promisingly against WCCS, with the four matches resulting in an overall draw. The A team received a bit of a wake-up call, as, despite exceptionally good bowling, the batsmen conceded too many wickets and not enough boundaries were found. This was soon corrected with plenty of practice.
There has been great enthusiasm and improvement in PE and games sessions, and the after-school cricket club has been well attended. Not surprisingly, hand-eye coordination skills improved, and all teams played tactically well, remembering to call and creep.
Much more thought and care was applied in ensuring bowlers applied themselves to length and line, and the number of wides and no-balls fell significantly in Year 3 after half term. This resulted in a terrific result in the Garden House match, with our A, B and C Year 3 teams winning fairly comprehensively.
However, Year 2 performances against Eaton House The Manor were a little disappointing, losing five out of the seven matches in the last three weeks of term. We were somewhat out-bowled and when batting there were too many bad calls leading to run-outs. As a result, there was a strong advice sent out to the boys to practise overarm bowling drills over the summer, before next season. We will be reminding the boys to do this as spring approaches and they will doubtless attack the task with their usual determination and goodwill, yielding even better results.
Athletics is very important at Eaton House Belgravia Pre-Prep and we enjoy many varieties of the sport.
At our sports day we were delighted to participate in a variety of sports which included traditional running races and relay. House challenges are always exciting for the boys as they love to try to run like the wind to win extra house points!
We all enjoy running cross country and we are lucky to have nearby Battersea Park and Clapham Common for green and unhindered runs. The fitness and conditioning that athletics and cross-country build up are essential to our successful pursuit of many other sports.
Our cross-country captain reports that last year the 2,800-metre inter-house run around Clapham Common was a 'runaway' success with all 92 boys finishing. Over £1,100 was raised for Asthma UK in the event, with one pupil (Green House) completing the course in an impressive 13.05 minutes, and Red House winning the overall prize. Despite this, our sister school Eaton House The Manor won our annual match on aggregate, at 365 to 329.
Some other sports such as tennis, swimming, hockey and golf require the boys to have athletic capability and they benefit from the athletics and cross-country practice that the boys regularly complete. Our aim is to build up the boys' overall fitness and athletics stamina so that they enjoy many sports.
Last year in hockey the boys showed a tremendous improvement with their dribbling, stopping and push-shot skills. In swimming, the boys enjoyed meetings with other schools and a traditional gala with Eaton House The Manor.
Tennis was also strong, thanks to the two instructors and three assistants that Eaton House Belgravia Pre-Prep has, and there is huge enthusiasm amongst the boys, many of whom spend happy summer holidays practising their strokes and enjoying friendly games.
Considerable progress was made with groundstrokes and serves last year, and colours were awarded to the whole team. One boy even broke the school record at the tennis club, with 79 rallies into the service box with Mr Cooke, head of sports and ICT. This was genuinely an incredible feat