Exsportise was founded over 30 years ago by Olympic hockey star Steve Batchelor and Dutch super-coach Bram van Asselt, following Great Britain’s Olympic hockey gold medal success at the Seoul Olympic Games in 1988.
As successful international players and coaches themselves, Steve and Bram shared a passionate vision about the best way to coach and train young hockey players to perform to the best of their ability whilst making sure everyone involved had a great time. And so the first Exsportise residential summer hockey camp for boys and girls, aged 9-17, was born – the first of its kind in the UK and the foundation stone on which the whole Exsportise Summer Schools English Language learning programme has been built.
Exsportise has come a long way since 1988. With over 30 years’ experience we have huge knowledge of how to deliver excellence in both sports coaching and English Language tuition. It was Exsportise that created the whole idea of summer sports camps in the UK and we continue to work extremely hard to ensure we remain at the forefront of our industry and true to the whole Olympic philosophy.
We asked Bram van Asselt to share some of his thoughts on how Exsportise began and how it has developed since it was founded back in 1988.
So how did Exsportise begin?
BRAM: Steve and I were both playing and coaching hockey at the highest levels but we could see how UK hockey coaching at the time was generally uninspiring and boring – especially for kids. There was very little coaching at junior levels and almost no coaching for kids on skills and tactics. We both shared a passionate belief that if you make the whole coaching experience really engaging and enjoyable for all the children involved then they would naturally improve and want to stay involved with their sport. It had to be fun.
The very first camps we ran were focused on hockey coaching as that was our core sport but in those early days we also included the chance to try out other sports alongside hockey as this gave kids more variety and made the whole camp experience more enjoyable.
We coached boys and girls together – as we do today – and we focused on each individual player and what they needed in order to improve. I was able to combine my European experience of how players were coached and developed in Holland with Steve’s knowledge and experience as one of the best players in the world. Back then our focus was on hockey coaching for English children although we did have a few foreign students come to stay on our residential courses given our international contacts in hockey.
Have you always run residential summer camps?
BRAM: We have done all sorts of things over our many years in sports coaching and learning – but running residential camps at some of England’s finest private schools has always been the core of what we do. We have worked with many centres over the years and so we know what works best. You have to have excellent facilities for all of the activities on offer; there must great food and accommodation that caters for the varied needs of our students; and – above all – it is essential to get the right staff and in the right numbers. We have always prided ourselves on the quality of our teaching and coaching and on the quality and level of our pastoral care. Because of our backgrounds we know how to select the very best sports and activity coaches and how to ensure that the whole coaching experience is of the very best level.
For example, on our English Language Plus Hockey programme, our Director of Hockey, Jon Royce, is someone Steve and I have known and worked with since the very beginning. Jon has an outstanding hockey career including coaching GB Ladies at the Sydney Olympics and many roles with England Men’s international teams. Most important though is the fact that he understands our whole philosophy of coaching at an individual level and combining excellence with enjoyment.
Today we coach hockey players of all abilities from all over the world. Our aim continues to be to ensure that everyone goes away from our summer camps having really developed as players, improved and grown in confidence with their English Language, had great fun and, made good friends from around the world with memories to last a lifetime.
But today Exsportise Summer Schools are all about English Language Learning?
BRAM; That’s true. We have changed and developed our summer camps dramatically over our 30 + years in business. Now our focus is very much on teaching English Language to international students. What hasn’t changed, however, is our focus on high quality learning through sport, music and dance. We have over 30 years’ intensive experience of how to successfully coach and teach both boys and girls aged from 9-17. We know how to make the whole learning experience work. We understand how having a common shared interest brings kids together, who want to improve and learn from each other as well as from our carefully chosen coaches and teachers. We understand the importance of the social and entertainment aspects of the camps to help kids to mix well and have a great time with others from different cultures and nationalities . We also understand the importance of superb pastoral care and really looking after all our students’ needs when they are on camp with us and away from their parents. We have one of the best staff to student ratios, at 1:4, of any language school in the UK.
We find that the children who come to us are motivated to do well. They want to learn, make new friends and have fun. They are active and we encourage them to grow as individuals. From our sporting origins we understand the importance of all sorts of different elements such as food, rest, play, discipline, respect and a great deal more and all this is worked into the whole Exsportise experience – both in the teaching of English and in the coaching and tuition of the various Specialist Options like hockey and football.
Why the name Exsportise?
BRAM: Simple really. Our name is pronounced “X – Sport – Ease” and the name was created to reflect the expert way we coached sport. Expertise in sport became Exsportise! We have always prided ourselves on having real expertise in what we do. So, although we have evolved our focus to English Language learning along with the coaching of a whole range of Specialist Options (ten in total including hockey), our original ideals are as true today as they were when we founded Exsportise back in 1988. I’m also pleased and proud to say that many of the people who worked with us in the very beginning are still working with us today, alongside a lot of new faces – all of whom are experts in their own way.