A sporting event for secondary students will become a firm part of the school calendar after it encouraged them to get active and sign up to clubs.
The Community Games was launched in 2016 with support from Microgaming through its PlayItForward initiative. Aimed at 11 to 18-year-olds who don’t belong to a school, club or Island team, the games were attended by students from the Department of Education and Children’s five secondary schools.
Manx Sport and Recreation (MSR), which ran the games, says the event will be called the Microgaming Community Games in future to further highlight the company’s support.
The 2017 games will take place on Wednesday 21st June.
Graham Cregeen MHK, Minister for Education and Children, who oversees sport, said: ‘The games give students the chance to try sport in an environment where the emphasis is on enjoyment and not results.
‘Participants are encouraged to stay involved with sport and to join community clubs.
‘Joining clubs offers young people many benefits,’ the Minister said. ‘The health advantages of being active are clear but membership of a club can lead to lifelong friendships. It can open doors to officiating, coaching, sitting on committees and developing skills that give young people confidence and self-esteem to flourish away from sport.’
The inaugural games featured 10 sports – glow sport, badminton, basketball, girls’ football, golf, judo, netball, rugby, snooker and swimming. In 2017, hockey, bowls, squash and rifle shooting will be added. After the inaugural games, sports are already experiencing an upsurge in membership from young people.
Ken Kinrade, Chairman of the Isle of Man Billiards and Snooker Association, said: ‘We held follow-up coaching sessions for games participants which attracted two new players. Resulting from these sessions, we attracted four other juniors through word of mouth and even two new adults. This is in no small part due to the showcase provided by the Community Games.’
Roberta Cannell, who chairs the Isle of Man Badminton Association Junior Committee, said: ‘We picked up six new youngsters after the games. We ran a follow-up session in October and 14 new players attended.’
Claire Coleman (pictured left), Head of Microgaming PlayItForward, said: ‘The inaugural Community Games was a great success and we are proud to see it in the school calendar again in 2017.
‘This year we saw first-hand how much fun students had trying new sports in a relaxed and non-competitive environment. I have no doubt the 2017 event will be just as successful, if not more.’
Community Games will get students started in sport. Secondary school students will gain an introduction to sport at a new event being held at the National Sports Centre next month.
The Community Games will give 11 to 18-year-olds who don’t belong to a school team, community club or island squad the opportunity to take part in sport in a non-competitive environment, where the emphasis is on enjoyment.
‘As well as benefiting health, sport can bring about improved self-esteem and confidence and a wealth of other positive social skills,’ said Gianni Epifani, Senior Sport Development Officer with Manx Sport and Recreation, who is organising the games.
‘It’s hoped encouraging young people into sport in an environment they are comfortable in will lead to involvement in regular exercise and, for some, competitive sport.’
The games, on July 13th, will feature badminton, basketball, cricket, girls’ football, golf, judo, netball, rugby, snooker, swimming, bowls and shooting. Students can gain a 20-minute taster of as many sports as they wish to try.
Some of the sports will come with a twist, said Gianni, including ‘Smash Up Badminton’, which is played to music, and Glow Sports, which promises to be a multi-sensory experience. Bands from Soundcheck, the Department of Education and Children’s music project, will play and there will be a chill-out zone.
Gianni said: ‘Sports represented at the games will go on to offer special sessions after the event for young people until, hopefully, they are ready to dip their toe into community sport. The Community Games offers them a starting point for a lifetime of involvement with sport.’
The games are being supported by Microgaming through the company’s PlayItForward initiative, which serves as an outlet for social good on the island, most notably in the areas of health, education and sport.
Claire Coleman, Head of Microgaming PlayItForward, said: ‘The Community Games encompass many aspects of what Microgaming PlayItForward is about. Not only is the event providing an opportunity for students to take part in a variety of sports, it is also educating them about how playing netball or football doesn’t need to be ultra-competitive and can be fun and enjoyable. Furthermore, it’s encouraging a healthy and active lifestyle. This is a fantastic project to be involved in and I’m sure the games, which are only a month away, will be a great success.’