Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Devon Ability Games Inspire

Last Wednesday 170 young people from 15 Devon schools and assisted by 40 volunteers took part in the first North Devon Ability Games at the Tarka Tennis Centre in Barnstaple.

The children were aged between 10-16 and they had a mix of physical and mental abilities. They took part in six different sports - football, tennis, athletics, rowing, badminton, tennis and boccia - an adapted form of bowls. Staff from British Rowing and England Athletics were present to spot potential athletes and to encourage the youngsters to join their local sports clubs.

The Games were given a London 2012 Inspire Mark to show that they had been organised to inspire young people. On the Relays website you can see the photos from the day

What I learnt was that:
  • The main aim was to encourage these young people to take part in activities and for them to encourage others to get involved too
  • A multi-sport event makes it far easier for youngsters to find out what sports they enjoy
  • Ability sports have been inspired by successful athletes like David Weir and Dame Tanni Grey Thompson and local wheelchair badminton players the Devon Racqueteers
  • Different equipment has made a huge difference in letting people with different abilities join in and take part.
I will remember the young lad who said he never did any sport, but he did play computer games. He turned out to be a demon in a racing wheelchair. I hope he continues.

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

S'miles Better

If you saw hundreds of people dressed in tartan running towards you what would you do? Run away? That's what I'd do.

I don't know what people at the Delhi Closing Ceremony thought, but I enjoyed Glasgow's short piece inviting people to the 2014 Commonwealth Games in the city. It was full of energy; it showed lots of young and excited people smiling and happy and yes it was bagpipes and tartan, but that's what people identify with Scotland.

I find myself explaining to people that Baron de Coubertin, who revived the Olympics in the late nineteenth century, wanted to combine sport and culture. So today at the two ceremonies to open and close the Games they demonstrate the host's culture.

Some people believe the Olympics and other international events should be like school sports days, with all the emphasis on the sport and the winners. Today large sporting events are about entertainment as more people watch them on tv or on-line than will ever attend them.

World class events are also about politics. Both Australia and China made their point about what they saw as their place in the world at their Olympic ceremonies.

Yes, we want more people involved in sport, but an event with a global audience has huge economic potential for the local economy. Manufacturing, food, hospitality, tourism and the creative industries are just some of the sectors that can benefit.

Glasgow worked hard to be designated a European City of Culture, a City of Architecture and in 2014 it will be a host for the Commonwealth Games. The city has realised the economic value of these accolades in helping to change people's perceptions.

So, the tartan gauntlet is down for London and the UK in 2012. Will we meet the challenge?

Monday, 4 October 2010

Delivering winners again

I saw a large newspaper advert explaining the rationale behind this sponsorship. The Chief Executive of this Devon-based company wants to:
  • Support athletes born or based in the Westcountry
  • Get people in the Westcountry to learn more about these five athletes
  • Encourage local people to get involved in London 2012 and make sure that there is a legacy
  • Promote sport, exercise and healthy lifestyles.

Two of the five, Liam Tancock and Georgina Geikie are at the Commonwealth Games and knowing they are local does make a difference to me. I will look out for the pistol shooting results now.

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