Whilst many stadia across the country are eagerly awaiting the return of passionate fans, living rooms and kitchens throughout Lincolnshire have become the new training ground for the next generation of talented athletes. The inspire+ Talented Athlete Programme is an initiative provided by the charity to teach the fundamental lessons that will help them achieve their best on the playing field.

Created by Olympian Sophie Allen and Paralympian Sam Ruddock, these high-performance athletes have spent the past few months passing on their knowledge and experience to the young children that have been nominated by their school teachers. The entire programme was delivered virtually this year and with the buzz phrase of “you’re on mute”, parents became coaches and children became athletes, moving and learning together!

Inspire+ Coach Lisa Ashcroft joined Sam for the Key Stage 1 (5-7) cohort and helped the youngest of the team understand fundamental movement skills and how they control their bodies through balance, stability and coordination. Key Stage 2 (7-10) were treated to a selection of seminars focusing on biomechanics, teamwork, communication and nutrition.

Every athlete needs to be able to fuel themselves for peak performance and to this end, the conclusion of the programme was a lunchtime cooking class with Darren Tinkler from Roots to Food. BBC’s Saturday Kitchen Live was arguably given stiff competition, as over 30 children followed along with Darren live on Facebook, as he cooked his dish of Albondigas (Spanish meatballs) and gave short insights into which food groups our bodies rely on to keep us moving.

Sam was thrilled with the programme, despite the challenge of delivering it from home, it has been an overwhelming success. Of the programme, he said, “this year’s cohort have really taken to learning more about their body and it’s abilities. Parents have also had a wonderful chance to see how their children learn and have even surprised them with their new found knowledge. The live cooking class was incredible too, seeing so many photos from parents of their budding chefs, who were beaming as they held their plates of yummy food, it made all the preparation and hard work worth it!”

Feedback and appraisals from proud teacher and parents include, “Our children have really enjoyed the TAP programme – they joined from the hall which was great, so they could be together”, “she was there and she loved it, thank you!”, to “He is the fussiest eater, so to see him cook and eat the meatballs was amazing!”.

Given the success of the virtual programme and enthusiastic engagement from both children and parents, it can be safely assumed that the team are very much looking forward to inducting the next batch of talent from the charity’s member schools for the 2021-2022 season!