Celebrating Kids Athletics Day with athlete and teacher, Jacob Allen

The 7th May marks World Athletics’ Kids Athletics Day!

A day dedicated to children and young people getting involved in athletics and enjoying our sport.

To mark the occasion, we recently caught up with international athlete and London PE teacher, Jacob Allen to find out more about how he started athletics as a youngster, and how he now inspires the next generation of athletes through school sport.

Back to the beginning

Similar to many athletes, Jacob was first introduced to athletics and running by his parents. Now placed as one of England’s best road runners across the 10k and 5k, Jacob started his journey in the sport trying out a range of events.

“My parents took me down to my local club, Rugby and Northampton AC. It was a great opportunity to go and try out a multi-events group. I got to try everything – running, sprinting, throwing and jumping. There were lots of local meetings that you could enter through the club and I did a 200m, threw the discus before finding middle distance running.”

Starting his teaching journey

After finishing his school in the UK, Jacob went on to compete in the USA collegiate system before returning and starting his career of teaching, which he loves and has never looked back!

“I have always had a passion for sport, and I have found a career within it. As time has gone on I have realised you can really shape the lives of pupils through sport and can have a real influence on their experience in school – not only creating opportunities for them within athletics but in a whole variety of sports.

“There’s around 13-14% of school children go to a private school and therefore almost 85% of pupils who go to a state-funded school who won’t necessarily have the same opportunities as others. A big part of what drives me and gets me out of bed in the morning is trying to create these opportunities for children in the state funded sector which has been really important to me over the last 2 to 3 years.”

Teaching fundamental movement skills

Here at funetics, we strive to support children to learn the key fundamental movements of running, jumping and throwing whilst having fun and taking part in athletics-based activities. As a PE teacher in central London, Jacob recognised the importance of fundamental movement skills and their vital contribution in setting children up for their life.

“If you want to become a professional sportsperson or even just enjoy running in adulthood, you will need to do different movements to supplement your training. Those fundamental movement skills are so important and make a massive difference to kids to make that jump easier later in life.

“A big challenge for teachers is to try and educate children in physical literacy, teaching different forms of movement and having some scientific background. Teaching children about heart rate training for example, or the different types of workouts they can do and how they help the body.

“The subject of PE is definitely going in the right direction but as educators we need to think about fundamental movement skills and what we can do in schools to help kids to retain this information and knowledge and apply it to throughout their life.”

Creating the perfect atmosphere

Fun is in the name of FUNetics, and this is something Jacob is definitely an advocate for in his lessons and extra-curricular clubs.

“It is so important for teachers and educators to create opportunities for pupils, think outside the box and take opportunities from your local area. Two things I always say to the children at the cross country club are hard work and enjoy yourself. If you get the balance between these two correct, then you will have a fantastic environment and be on to great things.”

Want to find out more?

If you would like to help children at your school to try athletics and build on their fundamental movement skills, look no further! With our Schools Curriculum Licence, you can receive tailored activities, resources, support, and equipment to help you. Find out more here.