Cross Cultural Championships 2019 – Organised by 3rd Year Physical Education Students

On Tuesday the 2nd of April 96 Primary school children travelled from Scoil Íde Corbally, to the University of Limerick. Third-year Physical Education students, along with guidance from module coordinators Cathal Óg Ó Sullivan and Jessica Mangione had been working tirelessly behind the scenes to organise the ‘Cross Cultural Championships 2019’.

Five workshops were set up around campus, including the multipurpose hall, the dance hall and in the Arena. The purpose of the event was to raise awareness amongst the students on the different barriers to physical activity, and ways we can promote an inclusive approach to Physical Education. Social issues such as human rights, inclusion, poverty and gender issues underpinned each of the activities.

The day began early at 11 o clock with the Scoil Íde pupils arriving to the PESS building in great spirits, ready for the day ahead. Some were apprehensive of what the day would entail, but after a quick introduction to the team members and a look at the promotion video of what was to come, the students were eager and ready to go! The host team led the day with an engaging warm-up of Simon says and some dances to the Macarena and Baby shark got everyone up on their feet and ready to go. The host team segregated the students into their different teams; blue, red, green and yellow and shared the timetable for the day with them. The students now were ready to go!

The activities were divided up into four sports each focusing on a different cultural issue: human rights, poverty gender inequality and inclusion. The students participated in the different groups outlined below with a reflection at the end of each activity on how they felt these issues had an effect on the lesson.

The food/ refreshments and timetabling committee undertook the activity of rounder’s. They had to address the cultural issue of gender inequality. They did this by changing rules based on gender as each team constituted of boys and girls. Some rule adaptations implemented were that boys had to run further, when boys had the ball they weren’t allowed move and only the girls were allowed move around the space. Different points were rewarded as a result of the ball being hit by either a boy or by a girl. The equipment was also changed; boys used smaller rackets when striking and girls used bigger tennis rackets giving a particular team a higher chance of achieving success.

The issue that the recruitment group focused on was Inclusion. This issue was addressed through the game of Meteor Ball, which involved four teams. This issue was highlighted through a variety of adaptations to the game, such as “one team can only use one hand to return the ball” or “one team has to sit on the ground throughout the whole game”. Questioning at the end reiterated the importance of inclusion and the discrepancies present within a game when all participants are not included. The relevance of this issue to students relates not just to the Physical Education environment, but to their classroom environment in which they participate in group activities, and also the playground at lunchtime where all pupils play games together. Without including this issue within the Cross Cultural Championships, students may have continued in their ways, failing to include all of their friends in everyday activities, irrespective of their awareness or otherwise!

The social media / Advertisement group focused on the issue of human rights in physical ED. These issues were raised through the games of Olympic handball and bench ball. A series of rules were implemented throughout both games which were unfair to one team. Rules, such as one player from the team not being allowed score were given. The students commented on how unfair this situation was in the game and during the debrief contrasted this with issues of unfairness they encountered in their own lives and the lives of others due to a lack of human rights. Students felt human rights are a great tool to combat unfairness in the world.

The host committee had a variety of responsibilities both in the lead up to and on the day of the event itself. The committee planned and lead the introduction and warm-up activity and members of the committee were also in charge of logistics of teams on the day and welcoming and registering the students and teachers on arrival. Finally the committee organised a debrief activity at the end of the day, which involved students working in groups to create posters about what the learned throughout the day. This allowed students to take away several issues they felt were important to them and how they could use this as a positive impact on the world around them.

At the end of each lesson the students were called in for a 5 minute debrief with some of the leaders. In this debrief the leaders reminded students of the topic they were focusing on during their activity. The students reflected on how the game they were playing contained elements of the cultural issue in question for that activity. The students gave excellent answers to all of the questions and demonstrated their knowledge on the cultural issues they picked up on throughout the activities. Some of the students even taught our leaders a thing or two about the cultural issues in our society today!

We would like to thank the students of Scoil Ide for their exemplary engagement with the topics they were given during the activities.  Once students had completed all activities they now had more knowledge and opinions of the issues in their world and we felt this was one of the great successes of our event.

The third year Physical Education students would like to extend our thanks to all Scoil Íde students for engaging with each workshop throughout the day and to their teachers for their help. Many students showed a keen awareness of the world around them and the current issues which people are facing in their society.  Indeed after all the activities had finished we were happy to nominate them all cross cultural champions.  We would also like to thank our Head of Department,  Giles Warington for his generous donation which helped ensure the event ran smoothly and allowed us to provide food and refreshments for the participants. We would also like to acknowledge the PESS department for facilitating the event and to module leaders Cathal Óg Ó’Sullivan and Jessica Mangione for their support throughout the process. We could not have completed this without them!

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