In this assembly, children will learn about why supporters are important for encouraging sportsmen and women and for sporting events as a whole


Haven’t we had some lovely weather lately? Of course, we always hope to have lots of sunshine when the summer officially starts at the beginning of June – but it doesn’t always happen like that. So we’re very lucky this year – and it means that people are able to spend more time outside enjoying the sunshine and playing sports.

The summer is a great time to play sports because we have long, light, warm evenings. Maybe you’ll be outside playing sports: football, cricket, tennis – oh! there are lots of sports that are lovely to play outside.

But maybe you’re not very interested in playing sports but enjoy watching them: you’re a supporter rather than a player.

Now, it’s very easy to get carried away by a star footballer or celebrity rugby player but where would they be without supporters? Imagine what it would be like to be playing in an important match and there wasn’t a single person watching; nobody cheering when you did well; no one sighing or crying into their handkerchieves at that third own goal. What do you think it would feel like to be playing and not have a single person to cheer you on? (Take suggestions)

Yes, it wouldn’t be much fun without supporters, would it?

There are different types of supporter, too: some go to the matches, some buy the T-shirts or calendars and lots and lots of supporters watch the matches on television.

Hands up who has been watching the football World Cup or the Wimbledon tennis on TV? (Hands up)

The football World Cup
Yes, the football World Cup has been taking place in South Africa. Thirty-two teams from around the world are competing for the cup. More importantly, over 100,000 supporters from all over the world are there, too. You might see some Brits there waving the St George flag; you might see people dressed in orange supporting Holland; you might see people dressed in yellow, green and blue who support Brazil; or people in orange, white and green supporting Didier Drogba who plays for the African country the Ivory Coast; or people with their faces painted in interesting colours! (show picture)

The football didn’t get off to a very exciting start for the England team – in fact it was rather dull but gosh! the supporters have been in the news – nothing dull about them. The African supporters have been blowing their vuvuzela horns and making a noise a bit like a swarm of busy bees. The England supporters have been singing their hearts out to ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ and ‘Football’s coming home’ (which seems unlikely on present form). (You may need to alter this based on England’s performance in the cup)

Just think what those great big stadia would be like without supporters – very dull indeed – and very quiet.

And if you want to be a supporter online and chat to other fans, you can do that, too. The Football Supporters’ Federation is just one of a number of online football fan clubs – there’s really no getting away from it!

The Wimbledon Tennis Championships
It’s not that different a story in South West London, where the Wimbledon Tennis Championships are taking place.

Andy Murray was cheered by both English and Scottish fans (and maybe some Welsh and Northern Irish ones, too, as we’re all part of Britain).

Of course, you don’t get people blowing vuvuzela horns at Wimbledon, but you do get people cheering good points and sometimes getting carried away by shouting encouragement, or applauding at the end of a good match (show picture). It’s amazing how nail-biting it can be for the supporter watching an exciting match.

The ‘Ride Across Britain’ charity cycle ride
But just last week another event was taking place – one that you probably won’t have heard of. It’s called the Ride Across Britain charity bicycle ride. Over a hundred cyclists volunteered to spend nine days camping and cycling from John O’Groats in Scotland to Land’s End in Cornwall (show map). That’s an awfully long way – nearly a thousand miles.

They weren’t doing it to win a world cup or to lift the famous silver cup at Wimbledon – they were doing it to raise money for charity.

Fiona Barclay, age 29, was cycling to raise money for the Children’s Hospice Association, Scotland. Her day job is working in an office in Edinburgh so it was a tremendous challenge – and a chance to raise much-needed money. She says:

‘It was really hard going – my knees have just about given out. I don’t think the human body is designed to cycle so much. But I’ll be all right in a couple of days.’

One of the other people cycling in the ride was Rebecca Romero, a champion Olympic rower and cyclist. So you can imagine she’s done an awful lot of cycling in her time – and could have easily outcycled everyone else.

But here’s what Fiona says about her:

‘I was flagging a bit, going slowly up this hill. I saw Rebecca Romero ahead of me and I thought, “I must catch her up” just to say I’ve done it. So I pedalled like mad and managed to catch her. She saw me and said, “Gosh, this hill is steep, it’s hard going, isn’t it?” And then she slowed down so I could pass her. It felt amazing to overtake her – even though I knew she’d let me. But her supporting me like that was brilliant. She soon overtook me again.’

And it wasn’t just the support of a fellow cyclist that helped Fiona. She adds:
‘Hearing people cheers us on as we cycled past really helped. I heard someone call out, “You can do it!” and that really gave me a lift.’

Fiona crossed the finishing line at Land’s End knowing that she’d raised over £1,000 for charity.

We can’t all be great sportsmen or women – but we can all be great supporters.

PrayerDear Father,

Thank you for giving us so many talented sportsmen and women. Thank you for giving us voices to support them and cheer them on their way. Amen.

Being a good supporter means cheering when someone does something well – even if it’s not necessarily the person or team we support!

Cheering quote
‘Players should know that if you can’t make the contribution of the winning shot, that your attitude every day when you come to practice, or the positive contribution you make through cheering and keeping up team morale, is just as important in the overall picture.’
Sue Wicks, professional basketball player

Further information

This e-bulletin issue was first published in June 2010

About the author: Jane A. C. West