In this week’s Year 11 assembly we celebrated the magnificent achievements of our U16 girls’ hockey team, who have won through to the England Hockey National Schools Finals, and then listened to inspiring presentations from four local entrepreneurs who run very successful businesses. On first sight the links between sporting skills and commercial acumen may not be obvious, but on closer inspection they are clear.
A 2002 survey by Moss Mutual Financial Group and Oppenheimer Funds found that 80% of executive women had played sport as children and 69% said sport helped them develop leadership skills that contributed to their professional success.
Ernst and Young (EY) have recognised the link between elite sporting success and exceptional leaders and have initiated the Women Athletes Global Leadership network. The network’s champions, EY executives, write: “leadership, teamwork, perseverance, discipline, grit; who knew as children playing games in the school field that we were gaining attributes that would guide us through life”.
I echo these sentiments entirely. Sport in school is central to the development of character and essential life skills. What works for girls also works for boys, and just as our U16 girls have gained greatly from their hockey success, so our U18 and U15 boys have learnt much from their winning run in rugby’s NatWest Schools Cup. Behind the success of these teams, and many others this term, lies inspiration, commitment, hard work, team spirit and the all-important ability to make progress by learning from experience.
Successful schools give their pupils an outstanding and rigorous academic education. However, the best education consists of more than just an accumulation of subjects. We must not overlook the central importance of sport in helping pupils develop into successful and well-rounded adults.