We’ve all heard the one about our school years being “the best years of our lives” but is that really the case? We’ve all got mixed memories of our time trying to work out that unsolvable algebra problem, making sense of a William Shakespeare soliloquy or translating the thought “when’s that bell gonny ring” into French.
What if you were going to school in the morning KNOWING you were going to learn about the history and all aspects of the famous Ayrshire Killie??
One of the main objectives of the Killie Trust is to bring our football club closer to the community and attempt to generate a love of all things Killie in the hope that we can increase our supporter base. You don’t need a maths degree or 20/20 vision to see that attendances at the Theatre of Pies are down and we can debate over many hours (and a right few beers) what the root causes are.
Talking about ways to increase attendances is one thing but in this financial climate it’s time to put words into action and follow King Kenny Shiel’s mantra about supporting your local team. So, where better to start than to get right into our schools and get Primary 5/6 youngsters passionate about the KILLIE!
With this in mind, the Trust talked the idea through with, a then-unemployed, local student teacher, Lesley Sandison. Over a period of time, a programme was devised, which fitted comfortably with the education department’s Curriculum of Excellence, to use the attraction of the football club as a means of encouraging pupils in their verbal, written, aural and social skills. The Kilmarnock Supporters’ Trust Education Programme (K-STEP) was born.
The programme is spread over six two and a half hour sessions. The Trust also lend the class a small camcorder which pupils take turns to use to record all their activities throughout this period. They can later transpose this to DVD to look back on at a later date.
With a Killie flag as a backdrop instead of Big Ben, pupils take turns to act as newsreaders, reading out key chapters in the 143 glorious years of our famous old club.
Using these key chapters, they then create a timeline frieze and decorate it with some pictures showing past glories and the famous faces that have played for our club over the years. The completed 20 foot frieze thereafter takes pride of place on the classroom wall.
This newly gained knowledge about the history of the club is then put to the test with a game of KILLIE QUIZBALL, a Monopoly-style board game with various pitfalls and questions to be answered along the way before someone can be crowned CHAMPIONNEE!
We can’t get by in life without using numbers and football is no different. Squad numbers, attendance numbers, match scores, not to mention the big numbers involved in money matters.
Pupils discuss how a football club can make money and what the Club has to spend money on to ensure a match can take place.
Their arithmetical skills are tested when they are ‘given money’ to spend in the Killie Shop and Snack Bar and they examine match day profit and loss accounts.
One important revenue maker with the Club is selling replica football kits so the pupils set about designing a strip for the famous ‘blue and whites’, the winner to be judged by the Killie Manager.
A debate ensues on what a ‘manager’ is and what makes a good manager? Pupils get to pull together all their good points and fill in an application to the Chairman to be considered for the position of manager at Kilmarnock F C.
Once they have become manager, they must buy a team and keep it within the Chairman’s very strict budget restraints. Pupils mull over a pool of players, weighing up their cost, positional strengths and weaknesses before coming to a decision on which eleven forms THEIR team……and don’t forget the Chairman’s VERY strict budget restraints.
This session is all about teamwork and co-operation. Players can’t perform without the help of their teammates and if one part of the team doesn’t perform, prepare to lose the game.
Various exercises take place to show the benefits of working as a team and how you can achieve your goal if everyone co-operates.
The session finishes in the gym hall with ‘parachute games’ which test their teamwork to the max.
The KFC Community Department visit the school and deliver an input on healthy eating, nutrition, fitness and social media awareness and their knowledge is tested by way of a quiz.
This is followed by an exercise session in the gym hall where pupils can work up a sweat during some fun-filled games.
Killie players visit the class for the last period of the day and are grilled by up-and-coming journalists on all aspects of their life and experiences…..and even probe about THEIR time at the school.
The last session involves a visit to the hallowed ground at Rugby Park.
Pupils are given a guided tour through the stadium, hearing about all the various artefacts and memorabilia on display, while trying to fill in questions relating to them on a fact sheet.
They also visit the Board Room, home, away and referee’s dressing rooms, the medical suite, get to come out of the tunnel to the pitch-side and sit in the dugouts.
Then, its light refreshments followed by a short prizegiving where everyone gets a ‘goody bag’ and a diploma signed by Killie's management officially certifying them as official Killie fans.
To try and cement a bond between pupil and KFC, our Club generously donate tickets to the school for home games which fall within the six week K-STEP programme so pupils can take in the whole match day experience first hand. Hopefully this taster will make them want to keep coming back to Rugby Park to become the supporters of the future.
The Killie Trust very much believes that the future sustainability of our Club will depend on youth development and more integration between Club and community. Youth development on the playing front is, of course, very important but just as vital is youth development off the pitch. Supporters are the lifeblood of the Club and without them, KFC would not exist.
K-STEP is a structured way for players to visit Primary Schools and a vehicle for the Club to get its message across and hopefully increase our supporter base.
Let’s face it, with average home crowds of just over 4,000 in an 18,000+ stadium, we’ve got a lot of empty seats to fill!