Sport Stacking Introduced in Umkhumbane Schools Project
Sport Stacking has been introduced in the Umkhumbane Schools Project - an educational outreach initiative sponsored by the KwaZulu-Natal Research Institute for Tuberculosis and HIV (K-RITH) through a grant from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.
Sport Stacking, which is also referred to as cup or speed stacking, is an individual and team sport which involves the stacking of specialised cups in a specific sequence – doing so as fast as possible. The sport is highly successful, being used in more than 40 300 schools in 54 countries worldwide.
Co-ordinated by UKZN’s Ms Martha Bishai, the Umkhumbane Schools Project works towards improving opportunities and outcomes in mathematics and science education in five secondary schools in the Umkhumbane/Cato Manor township area on the outskirts of Durban.
The programme includes after-school tuition in mathematics, science workshops, on-site assistance and teacher-training with science practicals and a variety of other academic enrichment initiatives focusing primarily on maths and science.
UKZN’s Discipline of Biokinetics, Exercise and Leisure Sciences (BELS) and K-RITH work together to produce well-rounded learners from impoverished areas in the city.
Since none of the five secondary schools have structured physical education or sports programmes, BELS approached Bishai to discuss the possibility of establishing a physical activity programme as part of the community service offered by Umkhumbane.
Professor Andrew McKune, Head of UKZN’s Biokinetics programme, suggested the implementation of a sport stacking activity in each school. Sport stacking has been shown to have cognitive, academic, psycho-motor, behavioural and energy expenditure benefits for children and requires minimal space and equipment.
McKune said: ‘A sport stacking programme would be a viable option to introduce into the schools. The schools, staff and learners are excited about participating in the programme and it has the full support of the Umkhumbane Schools Project.’
Said Bishai: ‘What I really like about the sport is that any child whether they are disabled or those who don’t feel athletic, are able participate. It’s quick and easy to learn, and is also great because it improves hand-eye co-ordination. We found that it helped children to focus and do well on their tests at school, since the sport improved their concentration levels.’
Grade 8 learners who participated were very excited and found the sport to be a fun challenge which they were all keen to master in the first workshop. Five Sport Stacking workshops were held from 28 February – 8 March for students from each of the five schools.
Two honours students from Exercise Science have been allocated to each respective school to become Sport Stacking coaches for each team or squad. There will be two workshops a week with each workshop being an hour long.
After five weeks of coaching, each school will participate in an inter-school league involving teams and individual students. A final Championship day is still to be scheduled.