Former national football team players help students improve their reading and writing skills
360 boys and girls over the last two years have improved their reading and writing skills through the game of football. This is the result of a programme in a number of schools that have combined literacy with a sport popular the world over. The programme is organised by the National Agency for Literacy which brings together students and former Malta international football players.
Saviour Darmanin, Carmel Busuttil and Gilbert Agius are a goalkeeper and two players synonymous with the Malta national team but nowadays they have extended their links not only to the football ground but also to school classes to follow a programme “Through Reading and Writing, I can Score”.
During the sessions with students, football stories and articles are read together with exercises in a dressing room that has been transformed into a library, followed by physical exercises and naturally, playing football.
Darmanin said as a youngster he was in the category that loved football; he knew how to read but he did not enjoy reading because he did not have books to his liking. The idea behind the scheme is that through football, children appreciate reading.
The former national team goalkeeper is accompanied by teacher Daniela Attard who takes care of the literary part of this special programme.
She said games are organised related to writing. Children are given a word and they have to produce other words from it that are related to football. Poems are also written.
The Head of the Literacy Agency, David Muscat, said the 10-week programme is based on a similar programme used in England in collaboration with the English Premier League. He said that over the last two years 360 boys and girls have participated and these on average advanced two steps forward on the international reading and writing scale.
From the attitude adopted by the children following the programme, this induces them more to the Maltese and English languages and above that, those who are making assessments at the start and at the end of the programme have confirmed that reading skills and comprehension of subject have improved.
David Muscat said the programme is spreading interest especially in boys that have fallen behind in their reading. He said that schools that offer guided reading in their curriculum may apply to participate in the programme and selection of schools takes place against established criteria. Students enabled to participate are also scrutinised before being chosen, particularly as to whether they are interested in sport or not. He said the programme is in collaboration with various football clubs that offer their grounds where the lessons may take place and the sessions take an hour after end of school