Our own version of the Euro 2020 football tournament

Monday 05 July 2021

With England on the cusp of a Wembley final, the excitement is palpable at Ark Academy, which sits at the top of Wembley Way. Following their successful navigation of the group stages, Head of PE Ms Gallagher made the decision to suspend the summer curriculum of rounders, softball and cricket in favour of her own version of a Euro 2020 football tournament. Cries of "I'm Sterling" abound as the children take it in turns to play as their local hero Raheem.

Gallagher, a Northern Ireland International in her own right, said tapping into the energy and buzz building around the Euros has reinvigorated the children. "I'm backing England to go all the way but right now getting the children out in the fresh air is brilliant."

The school, like many in Brent, is in the process of rebuilding the children and young people who have experienced the worst of the pandemic. PE teacher and Special Needs Coordinator Mr Edmondson has seen first-hand the impact on the mental health of the most vulnerable students. "The children have demonstrated real persistence, an Ark core value, and now it's time to rewarded their resilience with a fun end to the Summer term. Not everyone loves football but the Euros being hosted here has really piqued the interest of those who would normally seek a way out of PE".

Arthur in Year 7 is Portuguese. After Ronaldo and co were dismissed from the tournament, he's adopted Italy as his team, saying "sorry sir, but it’s not coming home". Meanwhile, Dalvin who moved to the UK from Zimbabwe this year, and his friend Taim who recently arrived from Syria, are joyous in the success of their newly adopted country. They both agree that England are definitely the next European champions.

With the children in the lower school not scared by the previous failings of England sides, those who attend the Sixth Form are more cautious in their optimism.

To capture this new level of participation, the staff have extended a challenge to Year 12. A football match with the Sixth Form wearing white, as a dress rehearsal for Wednesday's game. Co-manager of the staff team, Mr Moore, knows what it’s like to represent his country at the Euros. Having played for England in 7aside, he thinks that Southgate will have a clear plan to defeat the Danes.

As for Ark Academy, letting the younger, fitter side play as England will almost certainly allow for a dominant win in the preview match this evening. And for those who still don’t like football, there’s always the option of basketball during lesson time. Come on England!