21st September 2021 — Seeing a fleet of minibuses lined up in a school car park may not seem anything out of the ordinary – but for an independent school in Liphook it was a very significant sight.
For last week’s influx of school transport marked the end of a long and frustrating absence of external winter sports fixtures for pupils at Highfield and Brookham Schools.
Highfield and Brookham, like so many other schools up and down the country, had been unable to host competitive fixtures and tournaments on its 175-acre site since March 2020, when the country was plunged into the grip of a national lockdown sparked by the coronavirus pandemic.
The lockdown, and the necessary onset of home schooling, brought with it a sudden end to scheduled tournaments and fixtures against other schools in the traditional winter sports of football, netball, hockey, lacrosse and cross-country.
But that all changed last Wednesday as Highfield and Brookham welcomed sports teams from ten prep schools across Surrey, Hampshire and West Sussex for an afternoon of football and hockey tournaments watched by visiting parents.
Highfield’s Under-10 boys took on their rivals from Amesbury on the football pitch, while pupils came from as far afield as Woking, Guildford, Godalming and Chichester to compete in the Under-13 girls’ hockey matches.
Phillip Evitt, Headteacher of Highfield Prep School, said: “I love nothing better than strolling around the grounds on a Wednesday afternoon taking in the glorious sights and sounds of excited children playing competitive sport, so imagine my joy last week when we were once again able to welcome children, coaches and parents from so many other schools in the area.
“It’s been a long time coming and it’s been a very worrying and frustrating time for everyone concerned, but it was very much worth the wait and now we can hopefully look forward to many more days ahead of competitive sport against other schools.”
External fixtures returned to Highfield and Brookham Schools with a series of cricket matches in late spring, but no winter sports matches have been played against rival schools for more than 18 months.