When children from Blackpool go to school on a Monday morning and have got 37 sporting events to look forward to, it can mean only one thing – Blackpool Youth Games have arrived.
The annual weeklong festival of school sport once again coincided with National School Sports Week and provided traditional and alternative sporting opportunities over five days.
It enabled the children to be part of a national programme and to be among amillion children taking part in the school sport nationally last week as well as providing a host of cross curricular opportunities for teachers to promote the wider benefits of being physically active and adopting a healthy, active lifestyle.
The weeks building up to the sporting extravaganza saw the organising team pumping up footballs, sharpening pencils to score the cricket fixtures, shaking off pom-poms ready for the cheerleaders and even waking up the inflatable turtles for the aquasplash festival.
With an exciting summer of sport ahead, the town joined forces to create a vibrant atmosphere full of smiles and laughter from the participants and events team alike, which was clear for all to see from the primary school Rounders on the Monday morning through to the secondary school Ultimate Frisbee on the Friday afternoon (both events featured on these pages).
Coun. Graham Cain, Cabinet Secretary for Blackpool Council, said: “The Youth Games are a fantastic example of Blackpool Council’s commitment to making sure that young people grow up to be healthy and active.
“Not only do the games help children be active, but being part of a sports team teaches them about leadership and co-operation skills that we will use later in life.
“Sport is such a great way of bringing people together and through training and competing for the youth games these children will have made some great friends who can stick with them as they each grow up.
“Every child has done really well by taking part in the games, whether they were winners or not.
“I hope they have all enjoyed it and it has spurred them on to continue to do sport as they grow up.”
Almost 3,000 participants engaged in the activities that ranged from cricket to cheerleading, football to frisbee and hockey to handball, with a bit of dodgeball, badminton and table tennis mixed in for good measure.
Sport Blackpool, along with a host of event organisers and volunteers, provided the workforce for Blackpool Youth Games 2016, which allowed the young participants and their watching teachers to concentrate on having lots of fun.
Teachers, young leaders, local sports clubs and local volunteers gave up their time across the week to provide the amazing activities for the children, which goes to show the importance and impact of Blackpool coming together for the benefit of the town’s children and young people.
The focus this year was on participation rather than results, and every event was brought to a close with a celebration presentation, which saw all of the participants receive their Blackpool Youth Games 2016 Award and the event organisers get a well-deserved thank you from those taking part.
Dave Rohman, Blackpool School Games Organiser, said “When you see the smiles and hear the laughter at the events, it makes all of the hard work leading up to Blackpool Youth Games so worth it.
We aimed high again this year with the number of events we scheduled into the week as we were keen to ensure that we offered something for everyone.
“Blackpool Youth Games is the perfect way to celebrate all of the hard work that goes into PE lessons and extra-curricular clubs across the town.
“The list of people who supported Blackpool Youth Games 2016 is endless but a special mention must go to the teachers who took on the delivery of many of the events, the young leaders from Blackpool Sixth who were in attendance every day and the local sports clubs who all gave up their time to support the week and highlight the fantastic sports club opportunities we have in Blackpool.
“I would also like to thank our school catering team, who kept the children topped up with water and fruit as part of the Sport 4 Champions Programme that has been running in schools throughout the year.
“Highlights of the week include the 565 young athletes who took part in the road race, the sight of children racing on the backs of inflatable turtles in the swimming pool at Palatine Leisure Centre, the fantastic moves on show at the cheerleading festival and young people flying through to air to catch the frisbee to score in the catchzone.
“It won’t be long before we start to think about Blackpool Youth Games 2017.”