44th Don Bosco Sporting Exchange!

Over the recent Easter break students and staff from Uppingham Community College (UCC) visited Haacht, Belgium for the staging of the 44th Sporting Exchange trip between the college and Don Bosco College.

The exchange program is believed to be one of the longest running in the world and over the years has involved an estimated 9,000 students from the two Colleges.  The Colleges host the exchange on alternate years and this year UCC took 85 students across to Belgium for the competition.  These students were a mixture from Years 8-11, including 6 ex-students who took part in the 6th form competition and a further 11 members of staff accompanied the group.

Over the years the Exchange has developed into a five day event. 

Day 1 was a long day of travel with an early start for a long coach trip down to Dover, through the channel tunnel and then another long drive through France and up into Belgium.  On arrival the UCC party were welcomed to Don Bosco College where the 44th Exchange was officially opened.  After the formal introductions students were paired with their host families before spending the evening experiencing Belgium home life. 

Days 2 and 3 of the exchange are the competition days with teams split into Junior Girls, Junior Boys, Senior Girls, Senior Boys, 6th Form and Staff Teams.  This year the teams competed in range of activities including Athletics, Badminton, Basketball, Football, Handball, Rounders, Table Tennis, Tug of War and Ultimate Frisbee.  Each team competes with points awarded for each event to determine a winner of each age group.  There is then an overall trophy determined by all the age groups combined which Don Bosco retained this year by 15 points.  

Day 4 is traditionally a fun activity day and this year was spent at a nearby theme park with an hour shopping in Leuven before returning in the evening for the final presentations and results.  The overall Trophy was retained by Don Bosco and was collected by their team captains.   More important than the sporting results are the experiences gained by all the students who spend time with each other in a very different environment from their normal school life.  New friendships are often forged on these trips with both students from Belgium and often with students’ from UCC that they previously had not spent time with.

Day 5 was another early start and there were hugs and tears as people said good bye to friends for another year before heading back onto the buses for the long drive home.

The Exchange Coordinator Mr Lewin would like to thank all the staff who took time out of their holiday to go and to all the students for their efforts on the field of play.  Incredibly Mr Wilkins has now been on every one of the 44 years of the exchange.  The College looks forward to welcoming Don Bosco in 2018 as it pushes the Exchange program towards its 50th year!