Cardiff and Vale College students have excelled at the recent UK-wide Association of Colleges (AoC) Sports Championships held in Nottingham.

The CAVC Tornados, a football team made up of ten Independent Living Skills (ILS) learners, played nine games, scoring 16 goals and coming fourth in the tournament. They qualified for the contest after winning the Welsh Learning Disability Football Tournament late last year.

Cardiff and Vale College is growing and developing its sports provision for learners with Additional Learning Needs, with plans for an ILS Football Academy team to join the College’s growing number of Sports Academies. Head of Football Jamie Sherwood said:

“Since the beginning of 2019 we have offered ILS students academy provision to enable the development of this squad. The group of learners have been independently accessing the academy provision and training with the Football Academy staff on Monday and Friday afternoons.

“We were thrilled to see the CAVC Tornados represent CAVC and Welsh Colleges on a national level, but we are equally excited to see this as a catalyst for a much bigger picture.

“My vision is to have a training and competing squad in the 2019/20 academic programme and many of the barriers previously faced are starting to be reduced with careful discussion and planning that has already taken place.”

CAVC Sports Academies are made up students from across the College who are studying a range of vocational and academic courses. The Academies provide a supportive and professional environment that combines first-class coaching and sports facilities with the College’s expanding portfolio of courses. Players can progress in their sporting careers while studying at CAVC.

“I am looking forward to seeing CAVC Football Academy’s development of this programme,” Jamie said. “The work already being done by the College’s ILS and Widening Participation Department can enable this important programme to be extended further in 2019/20.

“I look forward to supporting the development of the CAVC Tornados and helping it become a flagship programme, not only in the College, but within Welsh Colleges Sport.”

CAVC Deputy Head of ILS and Widening Participation Lauren Alexander said:

“Since working hard to qualify for the championships the students have not only improved their on-field skills but have grown in a variety of other areas. The experience has provided them with a unique opportunity to put their learning to good practice and given them a platform to demonstrate responsibility and commitment.

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“It’s had a huge positive impact on their College work and seeing these guys reap the benefits of their hard work will no doubt inspire their peers. I was so excited to see them compete and I congratulate them on a magnificent result for a team that only formed this year.

“Also, working alongside the Sport Department has been fantastic, it’s a partnership that we hope will continue to grow, enabling us to provide more of these valuable and highly rewarding opportunities for our students.”

The Tornados were not the only winners from the College. A Level student Ellie Robinson, who also runs for the Newport Harriers, represented Wales in Cross Country, and the Welsh team won bronze.

“It was an amazing weekend, meeting lots of people, and being part of the Welsh Colleges Team was fantastic,” Ellie, who is ranked 6th in the UK for 10k and is a black belt in Taekwondo, said: “I didn’t realise what a big event it was going to be, and I was thrilled to come away with a team bronze medal – we also got to see the other events and take part in the social activities which was great fun.”

CAVC Head of Sport, Tourism and Public Services James Young said: “Well done to the CAVC Tornados and to Ellie for doing so well. More than 1,000 students from across the UK competed to become UK Champions across a range of sports, so it’s a real achievement.

“We are constantly looking to expand our sport provision here at the College, especially our Sports Academies, and we are all thrilled that the ILS team, CAVC Tornados, came fourth overall in the UK – it’s fantastic. This result shows the growth potential for the team.”

Cardiff and Vale College Principal Kay Martin said: “Congratulations to the CAVC Tornados and to Ellie for excelling at the AoC Sports Championships. I also congratulate everyone across the College who have laid the foundations for new and exciting sports opportunities in the future.”

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