NCO Leadership Exercises with Martlesham Youth Football Club

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On the 31st of January 2016 Sergeant With (ATC) of 356 (Felixstowe) Squadron invited the Martlesham Youth Football Club to our Squadron on Carr Road, Felixstowe to participate in some team building exercises. An Air Cadet team of Cadet Non-Commissioned Officers (NCO’s) would help Sgt With.

When the footballers had all arrived Sgt With, briefed them the Health and Safety and then explained why they were actually attending the day. The day was to reinforce the Footballers teamwork skills.

After the Sergeant’s briefing, the team was divided into two separate groups. Sergeant Carrie and I, Corporal Smith, took one group and Corporals Mitchell and Powell took the other group. Sgt Carrie and I took our group outside for our first activity. This activity was a minefield puzzle game. This consisted of a 6×8 grid full of simulated mines ready to detonate if anyone were to step on one. Prior to the activity, we had made up a grid on a piece of paper to replicate the minefield. We instructed the footballers to elect a team leader to decide the best route through the minefield. All we gave them was a piece of paper and a pen. Personally, I thought they used this very effectively – they had used the wet ground to stick on little bits of paper in the squares where the mines were. If someone was to step on a space where there was a mine, then we the NCO team would shout out, “Bang!!” to signify the detonation. Both teams approached this task similarly, through trial and error. They would sent someone out to effectively find the mines, using up team members to fine the mines. Which was interesting to watch.

The other two Corporals, kept their group inside and worked on a leaderless (without a leader) exercise. The task was, using the equipment provided, to build the tallest freestanding tower that they could, that would support a beret. The towers were constructed using some ‘MTA’ equipment, which had been kindly donated to the squadron. The tallest tower was 2.34 meters. This activity was to test the team’s teamwork and ability to listen to one another. This proved difficult at the beginning but towards the end of the activity everything ‘fell’ into place.

After these activities were completed the groups would swap over so they could take part in the other activities.

When the groups had finished and had received a de-briefing from both the Cadet NCOs and Sgt With, it was lunch! This was a nice break for all of us, to recover from an extremely busy but enjoyable morning.

After lunch, the parents of the footballers arrived. Sergeant With gave the parents a briefing and then it was the turn of the parents to compete against the footballers team.

The first event was a ‘Bridge Crossing’ exercise. This is where the participants had to use equipment (2 wooden planks, 2 tyres, 1 barrel, and 3 ammo tins) to cross a 4 meter gap. Sounds easy! The catch was, only the ammo tins were allowed to make contact with the ground. This proved interesting as it was a race and both the football players and the parents were raring to go. The average time of completion was a fair 10 minutes. So, not a bad time all round for people who don’t often do this activity.

The second activity included the set of ‘MTA’ Equipment. The competitors had to make a wheelbarrow that would actually hold a bucket of water. There were quite a few interesting masterpieces. Most of which actually worked. But this was challenging everyone’s practicality and creativity (along with leadership and team bonding). This activity had led to great excitement when the wheelbarrows ‘actually’ worked like wheelbarrows.

Afterwards Sgt With, commented on the football players and parents team performance, giving lots of encouragement. Near the end of the day Sgt With wanted us, the Cadet NCO team, to show everyone our leadership skills. This meant we had to complete the bridge crossing in front of everybody whilst he had commentated on our performance. Thankfully all went tremendously. We had finished the full 8 meters (two lengths of the crossing) in 4 minutes 47 seconds. Despite my little fall, we finished with an amazing time!

Overall, everyone taking part in the activities had a really good time, including the NCO team, and we had such a positive feedback towards, us, the Air Cadets. I have been told how beneficial this day was for team bonding because it really tested friendships and that it was extremely fun at the same time. Hopefully the day would have helped the football team’s play style on the pitch.

–          By Cadet Corporal  Smith –