Recently there has been much talk about the quality of primary school sport and the opportunities available to children. The Roman Cup inter-school squash competition, held at the Garrison in Colchester, certainly provided that sporting opportunity.

From the February half term to Easter, the schools involved took part in three rounds of the competition. The Year 3 and 4 teams had their Finals on the 26th March and it proved to be a wonderful display of competitiveness, fair play, athleticism and skill.

Over 65 children took part in the event and for most, this was their first taste of competitive squash. The atmosphere at the Finals was intense, a clear sign how much the children wanted to win. The improvement in their squash ability was obvious to see over the course of the three rounds.

In the Year 3 category everything was to play for going into the Finals. The scores were close at the end of the day with Dedham pulling out in front with 105 points. They showed calmness under pressure and a very good awareness of the court. Oliver Burle is one to watch and remained undefeated throughout, he won the Best Year 3 Boy. Ardleigh St Mary’s finished in 2nd place with 102 points, helped by their secret weapon Rebecca Morley who also won the prize for Best Year 3 girl.

Two more individual prizes were awarded to the most improved boy and girl. The judges deliberated on their decision, so many children had improved from the first round. The Year 3 girl prize went to Imogen Fincken from Great Bromley who developed an understanding for the game very quickly and was never without a smile on her face. In the boys category the most improved award was given to Brandon Pang from Langham, his speed and accuracy were a joy to watch.

The Year 4 age group was nail biting to the end. Although many were new to squash, quite a few have started playing on a regular basis at the Off The Wall Squash Academy. This made for some high quality, competitive matches between more experienced players. The Finals went down to the wire with the winning team pipping the post by one point! Ardleigh St Mary’s took the crown with 110 points, adding to their success in the Year 5 and 6 competition. Jamie Smith was their star of the show who was clinical throughout and came away with the Best Year 4 boy trophy. Lawford were runners up with 109 points and so close to the winner’s podium. Elise Ando walked away as the Best Year 4 girl for the second year in a row, a fine display of intelligent squash.

The most improved prizes were yet again tough to call. In the girls category another Langham player showed full effort throughout. Lily Dickie deserved the recognition for her determination and effort over the three rounds, a prime example that girls are competitive. The pick for the boys was discussed at length between the judges and the worthy winner was Jack Hutton from Bradfield. By the last round he was moving well and using his power to full advantage showing plenty of future potential.

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The children seem to have found a love for the game and has provided a welcome addition to the sport programme in these schools. Primary school sport is an important element of their development and should not be ignored. The success of the Roman Cup and the positive impact on the children was evident.

We received some lovely feedback from a parent which makes it all worth doing;

“Just a note to say a massive thank you for running the inter school tournament over the last 6 weeks. I attended yesterday to watch my son Elliott and his team mates from Dedham Primary play and can’t tell you how proud I am of them all.

It was run with total professionalism, which was no mean feat with so many children involved. It has inspired Elliott, who now wants to take up squash out of school hours and we are delighted with his decision.  

Many thanks again and I hope Off The Wall continues to gain the recognition it deserves.”