Team kit: more than just sportswear

A sports team kit is so much more than just part of the uniform for any school, says Jody Wells, headmaster of Forres Sandle Manor

As we started the new term in September, our children put on their fresh new kit and took slow but confident strides onto the pitches against their equally pristine opponents. Each team fell into their match positions and so the battles began for another academic year. 

If you ask any child what it means to wear their school sports kit, they’ll come out with words such as ‘pride’, ‘part of a team’, ‘identity’, ‘represent the school’ and ‘camaraderie’. All predictable, but hugely important to a child and their sense of belonging and friendship. 

But what is the importance of updating kit? Well, mainly to reflect the professionals who are at the top of their game and allow pupils to feel like it’s an achievable aspiration, should they wish to pursue it too. 

As our children sat watching England in the Rugby World Cup final in November, pre-match videos were inevitably woven with historic images of previous campaigns. In just the last 20 years there have been significant changes in the kit the professionals wear. For years rugby players wore long sleeves, then a polo neck style collar, to a baggier top which some tucked into their shorts, to the now ultra-breathable ultra-fitted kit we see.

U13A rugby

Not too far in distant memory is watching the England women’s field hockey team win gold in the Rio 2016 Olympics, and suddenly hockey was projected into the spotlight. The team were well aware that they were going to be the role models for many young girls who may be future stars of the sport.

Their team kit remained feminine but was completely practical for their sport. Their individuality was seen with colourful trainers, their hairstyles (many in decorative plaits) and a few wore subtle make up. The team spirit seen when that last whistle went and they’d secured the gold couldn’t help but make you smile!

It’s important that before the pupils even get the kit on, they realise that it’s an honour to represent the school and the sponsor  

Personal touch

We have local sponsorship for our kit. This means that pupils get to meet their sponsors, engage with the brand on their kits (for example, if it’s a local shop) and also realise that when they have their kit on, they are representing both the school and that company, and they must behave accordingly. Having a national brand would take away that personal touch in understanding what it means to have sponsorship and feel like any top they might have in their wardrobe. 

I, where possible, present the new kit to the team – often along with the sponsor. 

It’s important that before the pupils even get the kit on, they realise that it’s an honour to represent the school and the sponsor. Therefore, we always make sure that the kit is presented to them. You can see the pride and excitement in their faces – it’s one of my favourite moments in the school year.

U13A hockey

In a time when obesity levels amongst children are at an all-time high, encouraging youngsters to exercise has become part of the national prerogative. At Forres Sandle Manor we’re very fortunate that children do games or sport of some kind every day. 

However, this does mean that the kit takes a hit, having to be washed regularly after being covered in mud, sweat – and, hopefully not too many, tears. To continue to take those confident strides onto the pitch, the kit needs to remain looking as good as the day it was bought. 

It’s so exciting to see the developments in sports excellence – from diet to strength conditioning to kit – it’s incredible the research that’s taken place to allow all of us, not just elite sports people, to push our performances further. We can only hope that the small things – like modern kits – engage and excite our pupils to take part in sports, and inspire them to go on to be the sportswomen and men of the future.

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