Our Governance and Compliance Officer Joy wears a lot of hats. She's an international ice-hockey referee (as you may know following her blogs from Vancouver 2010) and she's also an Independent Trustee for the London Youth Games. Here she blogs on the latest competitive event in the School and Youth Games calendar.
I attended the Central London School Games and the London Youth Games finals weekend earlier this month in my role as an Independent Trustee for the London Youth Games.
There has been a lot of debate about the development of the 'School Games' initiative with discussion focussing on the integration of this initiative with the sporting community (whether this should be with organisations already established to deliver this type of programme or with the national governing bodies of sport). The London Youth Games worked alongside Southfields Community College, Pro-Active Central London, Sport England and the Youth Sport Trust to deliver the Central London School Games and the event was very successful. It was integrated as an extra day of the London Youth Games finals weekend and care was taken to ensure that the sports and age levels participating did not duplicate the competitions already offered by the London Youth Games.
The competition was a real success and it is clear that the sporting community and the wider community really are capable of working together for the benefit of children. The mini London youth games faced the challenge of a teachers strike which could have affected the number of schools and children able to compete. In reality the strike did not affect the competition because parents and school teachers worked together to ensure children didn't miss out on the competition.
The London Youth Games also runs an extensive volunteer programme where volunteers are park of the 'Gamesforce' team. the volunteering roles range from helping out with coordinating events to officiating and media work. All these are skills which can be utilised in the future and it is not uncommon for 'Gamesforce' volunteers to go on to volunteer in other sports organisations.
The weekend was a real success and as I was shown around the different competitions by one of the volunteers, I was inspired by the volunteer's commitment, knowledge and enthusiasm for the competitions. The energy from the participants was infectious and Crystal Palace was filled with a buzz of excitement. I was able to watch some fantastic competitions such as the indoor rowing competition which involves a number of rowing machines linked up to a screen with participants racing each other. The sports hall was filled with screaming team mates and coaches shouting words of encouragement as they watched their representatives row their hearts out on the rowing machines. Although not like watching rowing on a river, it certainly made me smile and wish I had the chance to take part in such a competition!
I also watched an exhibition of Resistance Sliding where the participant uses his/her bodyweight to move from point A to B. Perhaps this will be a sport of the future ...
I thoroughly enjoyed my window on sports competition in London and it is clear that more and more young people in London are choosing to take part in sport as a result of the London Youth Games. The challenge for the sporting community is how to retain their interest and involvement.