On 5th July 2013 over 1000 children from across Nottinghamshire competed in the Sainsbury’s School Games. The event which is held twice a year was the culmination of hundreds of level 2 (qualifying events) which had taken place across the county in the months leading up to the final. All eight of Nottinghamshire’s districts and boroughs took part in a range of sports consisting of athletics, table tennis, tennis, netball, football, cricket, rounders, golf, tag rugby, boccia, mini basketball and basketball.
The competition was preceded by an inspiring opening ceremony at the University of Nottingham’s Park Campus, where there were performances from 13 year old Holly Fallon, pictured below.
Holly gave an impressive rendition of ‘The Worlds Greatest’ and was interviewed about her choice of song by young leaders from the Nottinghamshire Leadership Academy Network. She told them that she thought the song represented the values of the School Games and that the message was ‘If you try hard enough, and believe in yourself, dreams can come true’. Jason Gardener (Olympic Gold Medalist) and Charlotte Henshaw (Paralympic Silver Medalist) certainly agreed with this message and during their interview with Tom Burrows (Young Leader) they described their own journeys to the tops of their sports and told the young people how they had started their careers but competing in school sport just like them.
Pictured – Tom Burrows interviewing Charlotte Henshaw and Jason Gardener.
The opening ceremony also had performances from Oakfield Dance Group who performed a contemporary dance piece inspired by the School Games values of teamwork and determination, the performers were from Oakfield School and Sports College. They were supported by Holly Fallon who sang ‘Titanium’.
Pictured – A performer from the Oakfield Dance Group
At the Nottinghamshire School Games we always like to end the opening ceremony with a memorable act which captures the imagination of the young people and ‘fires’ them up for the days competition. This year was no exception and the honor went to Excelsior School of Dance who qualified for the event by winning the ‘Dance 4′ county dance festival ‘Episodes’.
Pictured – Excelsior School of Dance in full flow
Sporting Champions provided us with a fantastic compere for the event, a young athlete call Julz Adeniran, Julz who has represented England on several occasions has a personal best for the 110m Hurdles of 13.72 and is ranked in the top 5 Nationally. Julz introduced all the acts and guests are really spread some of his enthusiasm to the young people (and some old ) when on several occasions he got the audience doing countdowns, cheering and generally raising the roof.
Several local dignitaries attended along with representatives of many of the UK’s most well known sporting organisations, they were thrilled by the opening ceremony and many stayed on to watch the days competitions. Councillor John Knight, Committee Chairman for Culture at Nottinghamshire County Council, said: “Well done to everyone who took part in the summer Nottinghamshire School Games. It has been a wonderful opportunity to showcase sport within our schools in the county and great news that so many children took part.”
The highlight of the day for me was witnessing an Olympic Gold Medal winning sprinter race against the children at the Sportshall Athletics. Jason was greeted by deafening screams of excitement as he went into the arena, he was handed the microphone and asked the children ‘OK so who thinks they’re fast?‘ ‘I do!‘ they all screamed. ‘OK who thinks they’re faster than me?‘ again ‘I do‘ they all screamed. This was fantastic to see and was raising the hairs on the back of my neck. Eight children were nominated by their teams to take part in the race, and with a little help from Jason, Corie Cote, of Ryton Park School, pipped him on the line. For one little boy he would be able to say he’d beaten an Olympic Gold Medalist for the rest of his life.
On your marks, get set, GO!!! (Jason Gardener races all comers at the School Games)
We hope that Corie may perhaps carry on to emulate his new hero Jason Gardener, but more than that we hope that the young people who competed at the Sainsbury’s School Games will be inspired to make sport and physical activity part of their lives. In conclusion we’d like to thank all the leaders, volunteers and organisations who helped us to make this event possible. Special thanks go to Sainsbury’s who have invested £10m to help us ensure that our young people get the best opportunities and experiences from sport in their county.
Photo’s by Eleri Tunstall of Ikootu Photography
This article is written by Ian Wakefield and first appeared on the Sport Nottinghamshire website.