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Young WISS Tigers ready to pounce

ALL teams of the Western International School of Shanghai are called the Tigers, and Sports Director Stephen Walker has big plans for sports to be part of student and family life.

Walker, a Briton, joined WISS last year and that's when the PE Department came up with the name "Tigers."

Students learn the skills necessary to take part in team sport so they can enjoy friendly competitions and make connections with students at other international schools in Shanghai. The school has students from age three to 18.

Walker holds a PhD in sports science from the United Kingdom. From an early age he enjoyed sports and has played football, cricket and tennis. He has a swimming qualification but football is his favorite. He used to play professional football for the Portsmouth Football Club.

Walker moved to Shanghai five years ago, married in the city and has a two-year-old son.

He arrived in Shanghai to run "Sports for Life," a professional sports coaching organization that runs swimming, tennis, soccer, cricket, basketball, dance and other camps across Shanghai. He has met students from all international schools in Shanghai.

"I was really interested in teaching in an IB school from nursery school to graduation," says Walker. "And WISS was just beginning to develop their WISS sports teams and that was a very appealing challenge.

"At WISS the sense of community is very strong and the tiger is the fitting emblem of our school," he said.

In WISS Tigers, not only do students practice and play sports, but also their parents play an active supporting role.

WISS Tigers play rugby, football, basketball, swimming - any sport that interests the students.

"If one child asked for a golf team, I would do my best to try and make that happen for them," says Walker.

In his view, sport is an important aspect of students' development since it plays a very large part of students' lives. Some students might struggle academically, but get them into a gym or the pool and they have something to be proud of.

It is all about finding what a child is good at and encouraging them to excel.

"Sports help students - adults, too - to be self-confident and so much happier," Walker says.

His goal at WISS is for every student to find a sport that they want to play throughout life.

The most important principle in sports is teamwork and it covers mental, physical and social areas, he says.

Children need to learn as early as possible to work together since this will not only help them in sport but also in life. Through sports they will make friends that last for life, coach Walker says.


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