Sport Makes a Difference


17 March 2013 | General Interest

Sport Makes a Difference

Fr Chris Ford, Principal of Don Bosco Technical Centre Alafua, reflects on how increased sporting opportunities have revolutionised the culture of the school and the level of gratitude he has encountered amongst the students.


"Thanks for the games, Father!" has been the catch cry of boys at Don Bosco Technical Centre.  We all know that boys love sport.  Our boys are no exception. However, until recently sporting opportunities were limited. So we purchased a rugby ball and allowed the boys to play touch rugby on the field. The Sports Committee and the St Vincent de Paul group joined forces to set up two volleyball courts. The Woodwork Department constructed three table tennis tables. Initially, sport was confined to the morning break. It was then extended to Tuesday and Thursday mornings before school (days when there is no assembly). We have now extended morning sport to every morning before school.

The impact of such a simple change in the life of the Centre has been dramatic. The reintroduction of sport has revolutionised the culture of the school overnight. Don Bosco Technical Centre is a much happier place because our boys have ready access to sporting opportunities every day. The impact upon school life has been very obvious:

  1. The number of boys late for school on any particular day has reduced significantly as they want to get here in advance of lessons to play. “Lates” per day have gone from an average of 20 – 25 per day to 0 – 5 per day.
  2. Our boys are getting into less trouble at the Market Bus Exchange of a morning because they come to school to play games instead of hanging around the market until the last moment, which also inevitably leaves them late for school
  3. The level of violence at school has immediately dropped because the boys have something positive to do. We haven't had a fight a break time or before school so far this year.
  4. The boys are visibly much happier and explicitly and openly say so.
  5. The energy levels of the boys have increased significantly.
  6. Those less inclined to want to play sport have a more peaceful and safer environment in which to sit around and talk to their friends.
  7. The teachers are happier because the boys are happier, better behaved and more willing to reciprocate the good things that have been done for them.

All these things could have been expected. What I didn’t expect was the level of gratitude that I have encountered amongst the boys. I have been astounded at the number of boys who have directly approached me to explicitly thank me for the games and sport. I’m not just talking about a few boys. There have been 20 to 25 boys who, in one way or another have come and said “thanks for the games”.

This set me thinking and it was then that I remembered that in his biography of Michael Magone, Don Bosco says that a spirit of gratitude is one of the signs of God’s grace in the life of a boy. He was thinking of Magone himself. If this is extrapolated to the whole school level, then the spirit of gratitude that I have encountered amongst our boys is surely a sign of the presence of God in our midst.