Amongst the old docks on the north bank of the Clyde, is a glimpse of what Glasgow used to be.

Huge red-bricked buildings glower down through long rectangular windows at the new business units across the street. Cranes and industrial machines haunt the skyline. 

A living memory of the industrial past of the city, Clydeway House on South Street is a former shipbuilding warehouse. It is now the home of Movement Park, an urban sport facility and charity with lofty aims to enhance the lives of the community through physical activity and play. 

I arrive at the initially unassuming facility which has radical ideas on how we think about and learn sport. I’m here to meet Stephen Somerville, or Stevi, the CEO and founder of Movement Park. 

A former judo national coach who trained athletes for the Commonwealth Games, Stevi opened the centre in 2017 with the help of a grant from Sport Scotland. “I wanted to turn things upside down,” he tells me. 

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Through Movement Park, he is challenging old fashioned perspectives on sport and physical activity. The way we coach young people in sport, the way adults approach exercise, and the value society places on physical activity — all of these things are questioned here.  

I follow Stevi down a warren-like corridor until Movement Park opens up into a vast space filled with skate ramps, gym mats, climbing walls, and all manner of clambering equipment. 

The walls are painted black and decorated with street art by local graffiti artist Rogue One, who is a friend of Stevi's.

The kid in me wants to run and climb up an apparatus, a throwback piece of equipment I remember from school which we never actually used.

It’s a sensory space which evokes the playful possibility of a jungle gym. Outside there is an area for freestyle BMX, as well as tyres and equipment for outdoor parkour scrambling. 

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Here, children and adults are encouraged to take on a number of urban sports which involve varied movement. From parkour to ninja, skateboarding, breakdancing, roller skating and cycling. 

It was born as a response to what Stevi sees as the failures in the way we approach physical education and sports.

Stevi says: “There’s not enough fundamentals taught at an early age. When we go into sports clubs, we focus on skill and tactics too early and don’t spend much time on the fundamentals.”

He believes children shouldn’t specialise in sport until they’re at least 12. “It leads to injuries and burn out,” he says, “It's all about varied movement, kids building up their confidence and competence.” 

At Movement Park, he says: “We teach the fundamentals and link it to the sport. Rather than playing the sport to do the fundamentals. We are saying to do those sports, you need to develop these fundamentals. It’s a reverse way of thinking.”

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Classes are even available for tots, who are invited to take part as soon as they are up on their feet and exploring.

It’s all part of building an attitude which recognises the value of exercise and respecting the time and dedication it takes to learn physical skills. 

“PE is not valued enough at school,” says Stevi, “It’s always PE that gets cut. It’s made society physically illiterate. PE teachers are being taken away from classes. That all has a detrimental effect.”

Why urban sports? “A lot of people say it’s no sport it’s a lifestyle. All sport is a lifestyle,” says Stevi, “There’s an attraction to kids that don’t take part in mainstream sports. 

“There’s a coolness. Parkour’s all Spider-Man jumping from buildings. It’s been the right way to go.”

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Stevi calls the three different types of activity provided at Movement Park the triangle.

There are mat-based activities, like gymnastics and breakdancing, equipment based exercise like parkour, which involves moving over and around obstacles.

Finally are the wheel-based activities, like skateboarding, BMX, roller skating and cycling. 

Students are encouraged to take on a variety of movements from each point of the triangle to enhance their fundamental physical abilities.

This in turn improves their competence and confidence in any sport, Stevi believes.

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“People are so fixed on one sport,” says Stevi, “They only come to what they are interested in. The kids who do different ones are far more advanced.”

At the core of the project is the idea of physical literacy, the understanding that physical activity is an integral and vital part of life, as important as reading and writing. 

“People think sport’s for athletes,” said Stevi, “It should just be a part of your general daily life. You can always learn new skills.

“As an adult we forget how to be children and how to play. Your body’s always changing, and having to get to know yourself from a physical capacity can only be good for your health and wellbeing. 

“It’s about movement and keeping yourself moving. Things go wrong when you stop. 

“You don’t stop reading through the years, so why do you stop moving through the years?”

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He believes as much focus should be placed on learning physical literacy as reading literacy, starting from childhood. Meanwhile, at Movement Park, parents are encouraged to join in classes with their children. 

“I’ll do the same class for adults as seven-year-olds,” Stevi says, “Adults love playing games just as much as kids, especially when you get them out of feeling stupid. 

“It’s about teaching people how just to play again. Finding time is not an excuse, you’ll find time for things you want to do and things you feel are important to do. It’s making yourself do something on a daily basis. 

“It goes back to understanding why you are doing it. It’s really important, if you understand why it’s not an issue. 

“We all understand why we need a holiday, we need to read. It’s not just about the doing, it’s the whole process. 

“You have to do it on a regular basis, because then it becomes a habit, and it’s about creating good habits. That affects mental health and the rest of the chain that makes up your life.”

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An integral part of the charity’s philosophy is enhancing the local community. The decision to locate Movement Park in Whiteinch was no accident for Stevi, who grew up in nearby Yoker. 

“I was a G14 kid,” he says, “This area was quite important for me. It’s nitty and gritty and rustic and we have got to do something with this part of the city. 

“I understand the people. It’s quite dear to my heart, it felt right. I love these old buildings. I love the industrialness of it. Changing that old ship building into something new. We are trying to move Glasgow on.” 

Movement Park runs a volunteer program, getting disadvantaged young people and “kids from the street” involved in the project.

Between 14 and 16 young people take on apprenticeships and coaching qualifications. But it’s not all necessarily about sport.

Some are budding photographers, web designers, videographers, and even aspiring journalists who gain experience working with different aspects of Movement Park. 

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While we are talking Dylan arrives, a 17-year-old who grew up in care. He is helping coach freestyle BMX, a traditionally expensive sport to take on. 

Movement Park provides bikes and equipment for young people who want to learn BMX, as well as free cycling lessons. “We take those barriers away,” says Stevi. 

“Sport is becoming for the middle classes. Places like Movement Park, on £25 a month and they can do all this. It’s pretty groundbreaking.” 

They are also setting up all -girl skateboarding lessons to encourage more girls to take part in the sport.

The charity links up with local schools and sports clubs to teach physical literacy and the value of varied movement. 

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“By doing stuff we’re doing, once they go to the court or pitch, there’s an improvement of movement variety,” says Stevi, “We’d like to work with more sports clubs in this fashion."

They have a wee sister sight in Aberdeen, Movement Evolution, which is building a similar model. But, apart from that, Movement Park is unique in Scotland. 

“The word is spreading," Stevi says, "It’s just a matter of time before we get to see an Olympic athlete.”