A superb response from a call to arms by two North Dorset Schools saw hundreds of students participate in a virtual fixture to claim North Dorset bragging rights.
A third national lockdown, the majority of students learning from home via the internet, limited opportunities and equipment for physical activity. None of this stopped two North Dorset schools from taking the initiative and, in partnership with their School Games Organiser, organising a virtual fixture to encourage their students to remain physically active during time away from school.
In the week of 8th February, Gillingham School and The Gryphon School competed against each other in three disciplines using a virtual online platform called Koboca. This platform had already been used to great success in organising and running a series of primary sporting competitions known as the North Dorset Lockdown Leagues, but this was the first time in North Dorset that it had been used to organise a secondary fixture. Both secondary schools agreed that their fixture would consist of three elements over the course of 7 days, all achievable for their students who were learning at home as well as those who were attending school; target throws, keepy uppies and a distance challenge, with each event lasting for a few days and counting as a separate event meaning that both schools were aiming to win two of the three events to take the title as North Dorset Derby Winners.
The Two schools drove communication and student interaction amazingly well through their PE instagram accounts (Gillingham's & The Gryphon's) and the uptake and participation took off to a completely unexpected level, which saw huge numbers of student entries as well as messages of support from teaching staff & headmasters and recorded entries from support staff and catering teams.
The first two events saw spoils shared at one apiece, meaning that everything rested upon the final discipline, the distance challenge. The weekend of 13th & 14th February saw students (and staff) engage in efforts involving walking, running, cycling & rowing to put as many kilometres on the board as possible. In this discipline alone, Koboca recorded nearly 1,200 entries from the two schools and it all came down to the final 30 minutes on the Sunday night, as the gap between the two schools narrowed to unfathomable amounts considering the distances that had been covered. Ultimately, and perhaps fittingly after 7 days of gargantuan effort on both sides, it came down to one entry splitting the scores and The Gryphon School edged the leaderboard to be hailed as the inaugural North Dorset Derby Champions.
Overall, the event saw just shy of 3,000 entries from a total of 1,083 students, testament indeed to the ethos of sport and physical activity that can be found within each school, its staff and its students.
Not to be outdone, Blandford School, Sturminster High and Shaftesbury School have already expressed interest in taking part in the next virtual fixture ensuring that rather than declaring a derby winner, we will be crowning the new North Dorset school virtual champions.