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Whitefield School's Maria Papazoglou Nominated For London Sports Teacher of the Year Award

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Whitefield School's Maria Papazoglou Nominated For London Sports Teacher of the Year Award
by TeamUp News Editor - Tuesday, 3 July 2018, 2:11 PM

Whitefield School Sports Teacher, Maria Papazoglou, has been nominated for TeamUp’s London Sports Teacher of the Year award for her outstanding contribution to girl’s sport. 

Maria PapazoglouWhitefield School caters for those with learning disabilities, so Maria understands the importance of sport and what it can provide for her students. Maria goes out of her way to adapt sessions and engage with her students in creative ways to ensure they take as much as they can from each experience. 

Maria has built strong relationships with her classes and encourages open discussion to understand what sport or activities her students are most interested in learning. Maria’s bond with her students allows her to tap into the thoughts and feelings of each individual and what is required to help them embrace sport and the benefits it provides.

To enable her students to meet new people and engage with different situations and environments, Maria takes her students to events and competitions as often as possible. She presents certificates and prizes to the students who attend competitions to praise their courage when experiencing new situations.

Maria’s dedication has led to many more girls participating within school teams, such as hockey. Maria has also adapted games to allow a fully inclusive experience for her class, with table cricket proving a real success after Maria entered a team in a local competition that made it all the way to the final of the county championships. 

Maria has developed lower-skilled teams to ensure students of all ability levels can play in an inclusive environment with those of a comparable skill set. Fun is a key aspect of Maria’s teaching and she often includes light-hearted games at the end of classes to keep her students focused.

Maria believes her students should feel comfortable within a sporting environment and ensures each sport is achievable for her students to play, which often means removing the physical element of the game. For example, sports like basketball can be a challenge with the height of the hoop. Maria uses her initiative to slowly build the students confidence up by starting with a bucket on the ground as a target before gradually increasing the height. 

Maria offers her thoughts on engaging girls with sporting activities on a regular basis: “Playing sport helps improve the girls’ behaviour in school and builds their confidence to new-found heights. Sport is so much more than the individual activities we play in class; it’s making sure the girls understand the importance of having an active and healthy lifestyle and how best to achieve this.” 

Maria also comments on what it would mean to be named London Sports Teacher of the Year: “I already feel like a winner. To inspire the students is the most important thing for me and to see them enjoying sport is what makes my job so enjoyable.”

TeamUp is a joint initiative launched in 2016 by the England & Wales Cricket Board, England Hockey and England Netball. Its goal is to maximise the legacy of three consecutive home women’s World Cups between 2017-2019 and ensure that thousands of seven to 13-year-old girls across the country have the chance to play team sports.

The initiative was given a significant boost in May 2017 when Wembley National Stadium Trust (WNST) committed over £650,000 to extend the initiative within the London boroughs and provide local delivery support for London schools and additional opportunities for girls to participate in sport. Schools can access this support by registering at and applying for support.

Four teachers have been shortlisted for London’s Sports Teacher of the Year Award and have been invited to the Vitality Netball SuperLeague Grand Final on Saturday 7th July. The winner will be announced and presented with their award during the match.

For more information about TeamUp and how your school can apply for London support, please visit: