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New Multi-Use Games Area pitch installed at HCH

Our Director of Sport, Roy Headey talks through the newest addition to our onsite sport facilities:

Hampton Court House’ new sports court was fitted in the Spring term and has been a big hit with the students, who can be found playing on it during break, lunchtime and after school – as well as the multiple lessons that are now scheduled.
The court is unique in the UK and comprises 6,500 30cm x 30cm plastic tiles, that click together to create an inter-locking surface.

We first considered upgrading the old tarmac surface in 2018 and investigated a number of options before settling on the interlocking solution – even travelling to Europe to try out some courts there, before finally settling on the choice.
Then the fun began; deciding on the colour schemes and the precise layout. The final design was version 18! We felt the gentle forest green colour was the best fit for the surroundings, but we did experiment with orange, aquamarine and of course – black, white and pink.

Watch the video of the pitch installation

Watch the video of the completed pitch

The court arrived during the spring half-term break, in 64 number-coded crates, in which the tiles were stacked in the correct sequence for fitting. Two days later, we had a new court. The sensation of playing on it is similar to that of playing on a sprung floor, so kinder on ankles and knees than solid tarmac and of course, when the inevitable trip and tumble occurs, the impact of falling is considerably less. And no more grit in grazed knees and elbows.

We teach formal games – football, softball, rounders, tag-rugby – and informal games and activities – bench ball, dodgeball, circus skills, skipping, frisbee etc – for development purposes and where there is a technical or fitness transfer into one or more of the seven HCH core sports:
• Athletics
• Basketball
• Golf
• Netball
• Table Tennis
• Sculling
• Olympic Weightlifting.

The new court will enable the students to practise netball and basketball all year round, other than in the very worst weather.

Sport and physical education at HCH during this school year has been very different to previous years and not the preferred model towards which we have been working. But when faced with the challenge, we asked three key questions:
1. Did our plan meet the Government’s requirements?
2. Were the risks associated with the plan acceptable and manageable?
3. Have we squeezed every possible opportunity for meaningful, enjoyable physical activity and learning into the time and spaces available?

We are confident that the answers are “yes”, “yes” and “yes”.

Conventional team games involving contact are only now becoming options, so many of our staples – netball, football, tag-rugby, basketball – have been on hold for the time being. Travelling off-site for the upper years – to Molesey Boat Club for sculling and Olympic Weightlifting and to the Xcel Centre for racket sports – and to Imber Court for Early and Lower Years’ swimming also had to cease.

But even with the recommended protective measures such as social distancing, “bubble” management and keeping all students on site – we have been able to run a programme that made the most of the opportunities available to our students. The end of year sports days will showcase not just the students’ athletics abilities, but some of the new skills they have learned during the year.