SAQ® International Backed in South African Parliament

SAQ® International have recently been mentioned and recommended in South African Parliament during a Human Rights debate discussing ‘Children and Youths in Modern Democracy’.

Mark Wiley, Community Safety, Cultural Affairs and Sport lead for the opposition Democratic Alliance party, presented information about the positive effects that SAQ® International’s Early Movement coaching principles are having on primary schools in townships within the country’s Western Cape.

IMG 0234 SAQ® International Backed in South African Parliament Mr Wiley is a champion of The Mass Participation Programme (MPP) that aims to give as many children as possible the opportunity to participate in regular sports activities and develop life skills through sports programs.

Melton-based SAQ® International has 21 full-time and part-time instructors working in South Africa and they all come from the areas involved in a pilot project being carried out in the Fish Hoek Valley and Hout Bay areas, near to Cape Town.

The project started in November 2009 and now 11,500 children from seven schools receive special SAQ® sports and movement coaching each day. One key element of the work being carried out with the children of primary school age is that the 85% of people’s neural pathways, which connect one part of the nervous system to another, are set before the age of eight, but most schools in South Africa do not have a physical education program until after this age.

As part of his research into this topic, Mr Wiley visited two Primary Schools, both located in disadvantaged areas, to see children carrying out various SAQ® activities, including those testing speed, agility and balance, all under the supervision of fully-qualified SAQ® qualified instructors, as he explained.

IMG 0618 SAQ® International Backed in South African Parliament “What I witnessed was absolutely remarkable and uplifting. There was total involvement and commitment from the children. The principals and teachers said that participation rates were exceptional, exceeding 90% in one school and 95% in the other.”

SAQ® have also stepped in to take school sport sessions and help set up new leagues to meet the extra demand and enthusiasm for sport. SAQ®’s top South African instructor, Darren Clarke, talked in more detail about the impact of a pilot scheme carried out at Ukhanyo Primary School in Cape Town.

“There are no facilities or grass, the children have no clothes, shoes or equipment and there is a lack of sporting infrastructure within the community. However, the impact the training had on the children was clear. After just three months of SAQ® training we arranged two rugby matches for the under 7’s and under 8’s against a traditional rugby playing school. We organised some clothing for them and they achieved excellent results, with the under 7’s winning six tries to nil and the under 8’s by 3 tries to 2.”

During the parliamentary debate, Mr Wiley also used the following quote from SAQ® International Managing Director, Alan Pearson, as part of his evidence.

“Those lacking basic foundational motor skills will never fully achieve their potential as a result of physical limitations that cannot be addressed later in their developmental cycle.”

Masiphumelele rugby 284 SAQ® International Backed in South African Parliament SAQ® International now have the backing of Mr Wiley as the South African government look to use an external organisation to implement their entire national physical education curriculum.

Living up to the company name, SAQ® International is making huge strides towards combating the problems of childhood obesity, lack of exercise in schools and teenagers spending too much time in front of televisions, games consoles and computers, by using physical exercise to develop movement and co-ordination, and to hone behaviour and academic output.

As the qualified leader in the fast growing field of movement training, SAQ® have also implemented their techniques and philosophies at schools in Leicestershire, the Republic of Ireland and the United Arab Emirates.

The company has worked alongside The National Behaviour Support Service (NBSS) in schools in the Republic of Ireland. Different movements, including agility, balance, jumps, lateral hurdles and a turn and swerve foot drive were assessed on 82 children over a two year period, with several categories seeing improvements of over 40%.

Particular focus was placed on six students that had shown behavioural problems and a lack of motivation in school and for homework. As each set of physical assessments were carried out and each child’s range of movement progressed, improvements in their behaviour were also found. Children became more focused, less disruptive and better organised.

SAQ® International also produced positive results after working in one of the world’s richest and fastest developing countries, the United Arab Emirates, where childhood obesity and Type 2 diabetes are a huge problem.

The company agreed a three-year deal with a leading Arabian Football Club, Sharjah Football Club, to deliver its school fitness programme throughout the country, achieving significant results in fitness, speed, weight, body fat composition and heart rate levels.

Alan Pearson, Managing Director of SAQ® International, said: “This approach is something we have used in schools and organisations across England, Ireland, South Africa and the Emirates, but our target is to introduce our techniques and philosophies about early movement and a healthy diet right across Great Britain. These are issues that we are really passionate about as a company and we strongly believe that the UK government should consider adopting the SAQ® approach.”