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13 December 2005

Heidelberg Ball School: An International Token of Quality

Successful start for Ball School projects in Japan, Nigeria, Austria and Brazil — The book "Ball School: An ABC for Beginners" translated into four languages — Workshops and practical demonstrations in Heidelberg's partner cities

The idea behind the Heidelberg Ball School has swiftly caught on in Germany and is receiving greater attention and recognition on the international plane. The project was initiated in 1998 by Prof. Dr. Klaus Roth and Dr. Daniel Memmert, in conjunction with the Freie Turner Kirchheim sports club. In the interim the number of sports clubs and elementary schools participating in the project has almost reached the 1,000 mark. Some 5,000 children between 5 and 8 years are members of Ball School groups, most of them in the Rhein-Neckar and Rhein-Ruhr metropolitan regions and in Berlin, Munich and Darmstadt. Membership brings them instruction in the technical and tactical requirements posed by the games in question. The guiding principle is "from the general to the particular" and much of the instruction is based on the example of the street-game culture of bygone days. Here children can gain a whole range of experience in free play involving hand, foot and racket. The aims, content and methods of the Heidelberg Ball School have been the subject of numerous sport-scientific studies and evaluations. These were presented in mid December at the largest international sport-game congress in Hong Kong (Prof. Dr. Klaus Roth, Dr. Daniel Memmert, Jens Haaf).

In December 2005, Prof. Dr. Klaus Roth, Dr. Christina Hahn and Jens Haaf also presented the project at sport-science conferences in Tokyo and Nara. Up to April 2006 this will be followed by a number of workshops and practical demonstrations in Japan conducted by the managing director of the Ball School Support Society, Jens Haaf. He has initiated cooperative schemes with elementary schools and sports clubs. The central base of the Heidelberg Ball School in Japan is the Nara University of Education.

In Brazil the long-running project "Escola de Bola Heidelberg" has established itself even more firmly in the course of this year. Tito Casara, Heidelberg sport science graduate and former member of the Brazilian national handball team, has set up a base in Petrópolis (SE Brazil). In conjunction with the Catholic University and the sports secretary of Petrópolis, children are given training on the basis of the Ball School concept at three private schools and sports clubs. In the next few months there will also be Ball School classes on public playgrounds for children whose parents cannot afford the monthly membership fee. Here private schools participate in stewardship schemes for poorer schools. Further cooperation applications have come from Manaus and Sao Paulo. Here the emphasis will be on violence prevention.

In 2005 the Heidelberg Ball School idea has also been introduced in Nigerian nursery schools. In Ibadan, Africa's second-largest city, over 50 two-to-five-year-olds participate regularly in Ball School lessons. There was a report on this initiative by Oyo's largest television corporation BCOS. In 2006 Stefanie Willhauck will be familiarising teachers in Nigeria with the Ball School curriculum. Further cooperative ventures are planned at other schools as well.

Since December there has also been a new Heidelberg Ball School base in Vorarlberg, Austria. After only two weeks 70 children have already joined training groups in the Dornbirn district, which has a catchment area totalling 60,000 inhabitants.

Further international activities are planned for next year. With assistance from the chairman of the Heidelberg Sport Circle, Gerhard Schäfer, new initiatives will be starting up in various partner cities. There are firm plans for workshops in Bautzen (Prof. Dr. Klaus Roth, Dr. Christina Hahn) and Kumamoto (Jens Haaf). In addition the Ball School team has been invited to the University of Physical Education in Shanghai (Ina Knobloch).

The development of the Heidelberg Ball School non-profit organisation into a large-scale international project has been made possible by generous support from two major sponsors: the Sisi Works (Capri Sonne soft drinks) and Manfred Lautenschläger (MLP).

For more information go to www.ballschule.de

Please address any inquiries to:
Prof. Dr. Klaus Roth
Institute of Sport and Sport Science
University of Heidelberg
Im Neuenheimer Feld 720
D-69120 Heidelberg
phone: 06221/544642

Dr. Michael Schwarz
Press Officer of the University of Heidelberg
phone: 06221/542310, fax: 54317

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