Sporting Academi

In late June and early July 2008, 167 Children from Caedraw Primary and Cyfarthfa High School’s in Merthyr took part in a variety of exciting and stimulating sports and literature projects as part of the South Wales Valleys Literature Development Project.

The initial idea was to create a transition project between Caedraw Primary School and Cyfarthfa High School with a selected number of pupils was realised on Monday 30 June at Caedraw Primary with poet and Circus Skill Performer, Mike Church. The 21 children aged 10-11 who attended the session received a free Reading Is Fundamental book with a sports theme.  A follow up event took place at Cyfarthfa High School in September with Rugby Player and Quick Reads author, Scott Quinnell, combining years 7 and 8. Each targeted child received a free copy of Scott’s Quick Read book Aim High, which is about his personal struggle with dyslexia.

On 7 July 2008, Cyfarthfa High School spent a day enjoying a variety of active sport and creative writing sports workshops to engage children in tackling both the literacy and obesity concerns which are prevalent in Wales, particularly the Valleys. Additional funding secured by Academi Officer, Louise Richards from Reading Is Fundamental, ( has helped to ensure that 200 children in the Welsh Valleys received free sports related books to help increase their enjoyment of reading and literature.

The event was a partnership idea by Sue Mulcahy, Literacy Co-ordinator and Louise Richards, South Wales Valleys Literature Development Officer to arrange a full day of sports and literature related workshops to engage the whole of year 7. Sue Mulcahy arranged a timetable of events to include 10 sessions, four of which involved authors engaged by Academi to run creative writing sessions.

Phil Carradice offered 5 x 60 minute sessions on sports journalism
Peter Read ran 5 x 60 minute sessions in which the groups worked together to produce group poems on sports
Mike Jenkins used sporting photographs to inspire poetry for 5 x 60 minute sessions
Daniel Morden told 3 x 60 minute sessions of sports related traditional stories
Cardiff City Football in the Community Team, ran a series of active sports sessions with one of their community Football coaches, Ashley Thomas.

146 children aged 11-12 took part in the whole day. They were divided into groups of 20 and one target group of 30 who received a free sports related book as part of the Sports and Literature Reading Is Fundamental project.

Poems compiled with Peter Read

The Swimmer
Sheldon Mason

He lay beside the water,
His skin as cold as ice,
I don’t think he’s heard us,
We’ve already called him twice.

His skin grew pale,
His face was white,
The pool of blood shone red.
All this happened on the day,
Our star swimmer hit his head.

Two months on we’re mourning,
No-one even knew his name,
Victory is still a dream,
The money and the fame.

One day our manager said to us,
“I think we need a plan,”
“A new coach” he said, “Oh, here she comes.”
She? It’s not a man?

Our arms came through the water,
Like butter and a knife,
I lift my head, look at the stands,
See my brother and my wife.

Victory! Shouts! Thunder and Joy!

We won a huge cup,
We felt the sorrow,
As we thought of friend
Who can’t see tomorrow.

Golfing Hero
Group poem with Peter Read

He came from nowhere.
No rating in the world,
no one knew his name
even the caddie got it wrong.

Playing the game of his life
he came from nowhere to somewhere.

The crowd followed him around
like stampeding horses;

Cheers like thunder
brought him home.

Suddenly everyone knows his name

The Fans
Group poem with Peter Read

Fans are crazy as animals,
shaken like a rug
scattering to the corners
of the stadium.

Watching the players
fills them with energy.
Drawing fans like moths
floodlights fill and light the stadium.

Group poem with Peter Read

Blood pumps through my body.
My heart races with me
wind in my hair,
feet airborne,
I feel like a superhero
running at the speed of light

Group poem with Peter Read

S swimming the surface.
Scuba diving below
Seeing an unknown, underwater world.

P Powerful pistols shoot vibrant colours
paintballing others from hair to toes

O 0rienteers wander the wood
out and about for clues
R Roaring rugby crowds welcome
Rugby players rough as rock.
T Tense tennis players rally the ball.
Two cats chasing the points.
The battle for victory begins

The Game
Group poem with Peter Read

From the air
the stadium is filled with regimented ants.

The player bounces the ball
like a small unseen trampoline.

The commentator wild with excitement
takes the crowd from love to deuce to game.

The umpire shouts quiet.
The crowd falls silent as the night

The ball as hot as fire
goes from player to player

The noise of the crowd
roars like an incoming train

Group poem with Peter Read

Football is a game of power.
Two armies line up
fighting for the ball, the cup,
possession of the other’s land

Group poem with Peter Read

Noisy, boozy, sweaty,
the flick of the wrist.

Moving the arm back and forth
with his eyes he positions the dart.

Throws for his triple twenty.
Roaring celebration.

Noisy, boozy, sweaty
The game is won.

Group poem with Peter Read

Pumping adrenalin
twisting, turning,
holding your balance
Scared of toppling,
stomach turning.

Ollies on the skateboard
A 360 turn.

Popping, jumping,
from earth to sky.

Photo poems
Written with Mike Jenkins
The Fight
Determined to win they fight till the end
Strong as a tiger as they take a punch
Dripping with sweat like you have just
Come out of the shower
The one on the left is defending himself
Like a lion protecting his cubs

I felt so fast and quick as I
Dodged the other players. I gripped
That ball as tight as I could
But I got tackled
The crowd went wild as
I scored a try
I stood to my feet and felt so proud

BMX Motorbike
I am angry but determined to get out of this hole
Which is muddy as a swamp.
I’m sweating; my face is wet as saliva
My bike can be fast as lightning but still stuck as my mind
I’m not going anywhere, so I give up

The boxer is a strong as an ox
They are as fast as cheetahs
They get aggressive as rhinos
They have cat like reflexes
They float like butterflies
And sting like bees
They sweat like a man on venus
They have their bones broken like a crippled man
They get battered as a man under a stampede
They’re determined as monkeys looking for bananas
After the fight they’re as exhausted as a turtle running

Hit it high
Hit it low
Hit it through the net below
Get under and grab it
Hit it through the net below
Try to score a goal
We need to win the trophy

Running passing
Muddy ‘n’ brown
Trying to score
With a grunting sound

Rough as sandpaper
Persistent as a team
Reaching  for the ball
To score a goal

Unaware of choking
His team mate falls
The ball bouncing
And scores a goal

Cheerful and happy
Unaware of winning
Singing and chanting
And celebrating

People smiling because they have won a trophy
People smiling because they are happy
All cwtched together to have a picture
He is holding the ball ready to score
They are holding the trophy up high
It looks like they are looking in to the ether
The circle looks like a big plate

The unknown surfer
I sit on the sand
Nearly every day
And watch the unknown surfer
I sit on the sand on Sydney Bay
And watch the unknown surfer

The waves climb over him
Like a prowling tiger
Clawing him under the water
For he’s the unknown surfer
He crawls back onto his board
And surfs the waves again
For he is the unknown surfer

The next morning I sit on the sand
The sand of Sydney Bay
Watching the unknown surfer
Surf the waves again

Fight of the year
It was one big fight
In a dark, dark night

He hit me, I hit him
I gave him a right jab and he went down

1,2,3 he was still on the floor
Out, he got up just on four

I circled him round and round
Until he got tired and went to the ground

1,2,3,4,5,6,7 but he got up
I was hoping for a belt not a cup

I hit him but he blocked with his glove
I hit up a bone

I hit him flat to the ring
And the bell went ding ding

I won the fight
I’m the man of the night
The longest Jab
I walked down the lane to the ring
soon went the ding
Crack went my jaw
Down went my hope

Left jab
Right jab
I was out
1,2,3 and 4
I’m on the floor
I got back up
I ducked
and dodged
and hooked
and blocked
he was scaring me
like a creep

He was making me bleed and
Break, but I never
Gave up
I persevered and
Stuck to my guns
Young Ricky was
Down for the count
The fight was over
And I had won

The Old and New
The old and new
Its time to go
Go to a stadium
To put on a new show
To win the championship
To be glorious again
To go to the premiership
And start all over again

Walking through the tunnel
Feeling scared as ever
But I felt excited as I hear the Anthem being sung
I’m walking closer towards the crowd
They’re screaming my name so loud
I felt the nerves kick in
Running with the ball, I’m almost there
I score with joy
I’m running so fast until I get knocked down
A big man tackling me I almost get stuck
I eventually get up but in the wrong position
What do I do? I passed to a team mate
Luckily he made it. We Won!

Wonder Boy
My punch is lethal as a bullet
My dodge quick as the wind
Never lost a game since he was 13
I am the Welsh Champion

My muscles tense
The right hook hurts my jaw
Jab, jab, uppercut he’s out for the count
I am the Welsh Champion

I trains and trains in the gym
Punching the bag and on the running machine
Muscles like King Kong the bell goes
Ding dong he is the Welsh Champion

The next fight is a hard one
My title is for either of us at the moment
I am the Welsh Champion

I won the Trophy
I win round 2
He wins round 2
I cut my face
And blood squirts out to you
I get back you
And win in the ring
Just for you till the bell dings
I win the trophy at the end
I’ll go jogging next weekend

Bars, beam, floor, vault
Flip, twist, flip, twist
Round and round her body’s spinning
In a pose she lands

Cartwheels round offs, flick, flick, flick
Full twist, front sum and Arabian
Backwards flip and front one too
Maybe she’ll do the splits

Right leg, left leg, box and bridge
Flick of her legs and she’s up
Oh no! She fell and broke her leg
Someone call 911

As fast as a dart
As fast as a dart down the hill
As high as a plane in the sky
Taking the turns, ripping up the mud
Jumping high with the skill in the clouds
Landing hard on dirt, bouncing all around
With the wheels on the ground

The Team
The team who won the match
Was saved by the keeper’s classic catch
Now the keeper can pose and smile
And he feels he could probably run a mile
Now his team has their arms in the air
While the losing team thinks “Oh what a mare”
And know with that winning catch
His team has won the match

Last fight of the year
The bell has gone
The game has started
One takes a swing
So the referee has parted
He lands to the floor with a crash
Because the punch was such a smash
He gets back up from the punch
And hits him back, you can hear him crunch

He turns around and knocks him down
This is the second hit
He could be crowned king, let’s admit
It’s coming near to the end
He takes a sharp punch that they can’t mend
This is the end 1,2,3, he is down for good
Like I knew he would
He has been crowned king for that I know
If you matched the fight again it will show

Fight Night
The bell goes they hit hands
And then they start
They hit and hit
Until someone drops

He ducks and gives him an uppercut
He jabs him twice
With a left followed by a right

He ducks and he dodges
And dances around his opponent
But sooner or later
His opponent will lay him out flat

They fight until the seventh round
Both men are exhausted
But the fans carry them on
But they know they won’t be on for long

The bell for the 13th round just went
And the men are feeling the pains
Both men have cuts and bruises
They know there are only two rounds left
But it feels like twenty

The bell has gone for the 15th round
And coming to the end
And Hatton gets furious and stronger
And hits his opponent and drops him
He then wins the championship
And now for the celebration

The Half Pip
As I acid dropped down the edge
My feelings, all of them out of my head
I could hear my wheels screeching and rolling
The crowd almost started booing

But I couldn’t care, what so ever
It’s like going up in an elevator
As I went in the air
Oh my gosh I slipped over there

So in the air I grabbed my board
And I grinded across a very thick cord
Sparks like fire went everywhere
And now the crowd started to care

As I skated all the way down
I could hear a child starting to howl
Then I stopped, dead silence
Then these people gave me presents

On that day I was known everywhere
Everyone looked and stared
Almost every time I get paid
By the way, my name’s Danny Wade

11 players on each side
2 strikers
4 midfielders
4 defenders
And 1 goalkeeper

Strikers score
Midfielders take free kicks
Defenders defend
Goalkeeper protects

90 minutes we play
45 minutes then a break
We are winning but then
The ball came flying at me
I hit it with my hands
It bounced away
The whistle blew
We had won
We had our photos taken especially me

I had won the game

The water, rock, waves and sun
Here’s a place to have some fun
California here we come
Surfing is our number one

Waves are finally here to stay
We’ll enjoy them every day
The rocks are sharp, seagulls are loud
Surfing is the way and we’re so proud

We’ve been playing all night
Waiting for the game to end
There has been a big fight
It’s driving me round the bend

Everyone’s kicking like kangaroos
I really want to go home
Because I need the loo
I’m sitting here all alone.

I glide through the water
As I am splashed by the waves
I feel nothing but excitement
And most of all determined

My excitement is fading
And turning into tiredness
The noisy waves almost sound
Like a lullaby sending me to sleep

I am wet through, cold
Alone and waiting for this to end
As the sunset sets

I am really pleased that I won
Very proud indeed
I have got a trophy
That I have worked hard to get

When I had the ball, I nearly missed the ring
But as I am a good athlete
It went through the ring

I’m so glad I scored, I gave my team a point
Now we are a step closer
To winning the cup

I was shooting like a man with a gun
It was really hard because
Someone was marking me like a teacher with your work

Suddenly someone scored
Yeah we all screamed
Now we are victorious evenings approaching nearer

As we won our faces were
Smiley as a happy face you draw
Happy as a sun. Oh we are happy
Smiling at the camera
And we couldn’t be happier

Get ready to skate
I did a stall
On a really thin pole
It’s on a ramp
And it’s a bit damp

Balanced like a bird on a wire
Adrenalin burning like fire
Life on the edge of a corping

I’ve got the ability
And I’ve got flexibility
My best mate Bert
He skates vert
Kitted up like a knight
Who’s ready to fight.

I’m clutching on tight
To the handles of my bike
I’m going quite fast, I’m getting blurred sight

I wish this photographer would hurry up
I want to train and win the cup
The wind is blowing me off balance
C’mon I want to show off my cycling talents

Finally I’m back on track
I’ve trained so hard, I’ve hurt my back
I think I’ll stop and have a rest
I’ll try tomorrow to beat the best

The seat is hard
My bum is sore
I pushed the peddles
I can’t no more

Final Glory
At the beginning of the year we were nothing
Other girls laughed at us and put us to shame
We lost 10-0 to Merthyr that was the worst.

We trained all the time but never improved
But we never lost hope, we never gave up
We lost 9-1 to Merthyr that was better.

We practiced out passing
We practiced our shooting
All night until one day our coach said “We have to get better.”
We beat Merthyr 5-0 that was our final glory.

Girls aren’t supposed to play boxing
They told me over and over
You’re supposed to be into dolls and tennis.

Now he can’t hurt me can he
I let him throw the first punch
And I throw two
The referee blows the whistle.

You’re not strong only I am
He scoffed @It’s for boys only”
I dodge him and throw a punch.

And when I throw the punch
I knew it would be
You knocked out for punch.

Men vs Women
The crowds are cheering on the teams
As they are coming out of the tunnel
Running onto the pitch
Full of muddy puddles.

It’s five minutes into the game
Neath are over the line
5 points on the board
Followed by a conversion.

Rugby ball being forever passed
Running around like headless chickens.

The Surfer
Sliding through the open water
Arms spread out like an eagle flying freely
Waves break behind m and form into a watery froth
I feel protected, with my wetsuit as a waterproof skin.

The freezing cold spray comes as a shock
It burns my eyes and stings my skin
The salty taste spreads around my mouth like a juicy rumour
Spreading amongst the school.

A Long Ride Home
I just learnt how to ride a bike
I ride it all the time
I’m much better now I’ve grown
But there’s a secret I’ve never shown
I want to be a champion
And win all of the races
And pass all of those silly losing faces.

The Race
The helmet goes on and it’s the start
The engine starts up, off we go
The rain pours down, making it slow
The crowd’s roaring all you can hear is the beating of my heart.
The wind is blowing, but don’t you worry
I’ll pull the throttle in a hurry
I can see the ending just down there
Quick drive not a second to spare
I’ve won the race, I feel great
Here’s your medal well done mate

The Match
The impact of the punch is like a car crash into a wall
The punch is as deadly as an archer
The boxer is aggressive as a gorilla on a bad day
The ropes are straight as a ruler
The punch is a fast as a sound
The spectators are serious yet look so bored

The Biker who went the wrong way
I got lost on the motorway
In a bike race I’ve got to say
I went up the road to the other field
I went through some cow poo
And then I lost me shoe
Then up the hill my wheel fell off
Just when I had a strop

The wave of a lifetime
Riding the waves
What an exciting feeling
Your friends cheering you on
Drowning out the sound of the waves behind me.

The waves crashing ferociously into the rocks
Like a female lion protecting her young cubs
I’m quite at home on the waves
Like a bird in a nest high up in a tree.

I’m almost at the beach
Where the sand can go through my toes
This was a wave of a lifetime
And now it’s no more.