It’s much more fun to play basketball than to play an hour-long game.”
After passing through the COVID-19 tunnel, smiles have appeared on elementary, middle, and high school playgrounds and auditoriums for the first time in a long time. In particular, league games for “sports clubs,” a group of physical education activities for general students, have been held since this month, adding to the students’ enjoyment.
On the 25th, students from Jamsil Middle School and Haenuri Middle School played the first game of the basketball group stage in the auditorium.
The 10 players from both teams entered the court shouting “cheers” and “focus” one after another.
When one player stole the other’s basketball and scored a layup, dozens of students in the stands and cheering section gave a thumbs up and cheered.
The score was 25-12 in favor of Hannurijung. The Jamsiljung players hugged each other and said, “Don’t be embarrassed, you have another chance.
The winner also waved to the loser, saying, “Good job.” Ahn Moo-jin, a member of Hannurijung, coolly said, “You get along better when you play. That’s sportsmanship.”
The team that wins the district league, which runs from this month through August against neighboring basketball teams, will compete in a tournament in September between representatives from each district. If they win first place, they will represent Seoul at the National School Sports Club Festival in October and December.
From this year, the first through third places will be awarded at the national competition to boost student morale.
“The kids really like it,” said Choi Jae-ho, a basketball coach at Jamsiljung Sports Club (English teacher). They organized their own team, and they train at 7 a.m. every day.” “I think their minds are getting healthier. Their expressions are completely different from normal classes.”
Mr. Lee Hyun-soo from Jamsil Middle School said, “Playing basketball for fun helps me get along with my friends. It’s better for your body because it’s more active than playing computer games,” he smiled.
The participation rate of students in sports clubs has been increasing this year after the mask requirement was removed.
According to the Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education on March 28, a total of 2,113 elementary, middle, and high school teams in Seoul registered to participate in sports club competitions this month (308 elementary, 1,115 middle, and 650 high school), almost recovering the level of 2019 (2,255) before COVID-19. There were 26,042 students participating.
Due to increased distancing due to COVID-19, there were no in-person sports club competitions for two years starting in 2020, and then last year, after two years, there were 1,338 teams (20,997 participants). This year, there are 1.6 times as many teams and 5,000 more students than last year.
The number of teams participating in the boys’ basketball game also increased by 1.4 times, from 150 in 2022 to 209 this year.
There are 14 designated sports, including basketball, soccer, and volleyball, and 9 autonomous sports, including futsal, for the Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education Sports Club Games, totaling 23 sports. In particular, new sports such as dodgeball, wrestling band, and breaking were added this year to increase the enthusiasm of students to participate.
The Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education is encouraging students to participate in the tournament to help them recover from the prolonged COVID-19 pandemic. Schools also agree that more physical activity for students leads to a healthier school life.
A vice principal in Gwanak-gu said, “Students need to release their repressed needs, and if they don’t, incidents happen. Through this, they can be united and have a healthy school life, and they seem to have more pride in their school.”
The Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education also said, “The number of applications for sports clubs has been increasing this year. We are implementing a comprehensive support program to encourage more students to participate in sports clubs, including dispatching professional coaches to elementary schools.”