Barnsley sports coach’s challenge to businesses

Imagine going orienteering with your boss after work or taking on a rival firm at dodgeball or rounders.

If one Barnsley businessman’s new venture takes off – that is just what we will be doing.

Darren Padgett, a former PE teacher, already runs a successful PE and sport business for schools and now he wants to take the idea into companies.

The plans are being supported by Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council, a partner in the South Yorkshire Sector Growth Enhancement Programme (SYSGEP).

Team Activ works with more than 60 schools, mainly in Barnsley, running sports competitions, clubs and training teachers.

Team Activ Plus will see the company working with businesses running corporate sports leagues and encouraging after-work activities.

Darren, who was head of PE at the school where Kes was filmed and has nearly 30 years’ experience in school sports, said: “Having a fit and healthy workforce can make a lot of difference to productivity, morale, staff retention and sickness rates.

“Research by Sheffield Hallam University shows that for every pound spent on wellbeing you’ll save three times that in sickness absence alone.

“So it makes sense for an employer to think about it, both from being a good employer and having a happy workforce, but also thinking about the bottom line.”

Darren set up Team Activ in 2011 after being made redundant from running the Schools Sports Partnership in Barnsley.

Team Activ, which is a social enterprise, immediately signed up 40 local schools to run their inter-schools competitions.

It has now expanded so that it works with every secondary school in Barnsley and more than half of all primary schools.

Team Activ also runs after-school clubs and offers training for continuing professional development to teachers and teaching assistants in running PE lessons. It has eight full-time staff and is looking for more, and has 20 part-time teachers and coaches on its books.

Darren said: “With Team Activ Plus not only will it be about having fun and keeping fit, but also a great networking opportunity and so much more healthy than a networking breakfast of bacon, egg and sausage.”

Darren wants to steer away from traditional sports such as cricket and football, and is looking at ones that are more likely to interest women too, such as orienteering, rounders, basketball, geocaching and dodgeball.

So far he has tried a couple of trial events with businesses in Barnsley, which have gone down well. The plan is to expand to include more businesses across the Leeds and Sheffield City Regions.

Team Activ’s expansion is being supported by SYSGEP with free advice on areas including HR, recruitment, finance and marketing.

“Having them working alongside us has kept me ambitious. It means there are always people there to give you support and to bounce ideas off,” said Darren.

SYSGEP is part-financed by the European Regional Development Fund through the Yorkshire and The Humber ERDF Programme 2007-13.

Adrian Waite, SYSGEP sector growth manager, said: “We were keen to support a successful social enterprise model being adapted for the corporate world.  Businesses and employees can only benefit from working alongside Darren and his team.”

Darren Padgett

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