Community Games boosts Olympic-fever
A pastor, retailer, YMCA worker, teacher, a man with dyselexia who shed 10 stone and another who’s breathing life back into an old RAF base. These people all have one thing in common – they’re all Community Games organisers.
These special Community Games organisers are just a small selection of the 1,000 plus people who have taken it upon themselves to organise a Community Games in their area in a bid to unite families and communities.
Events – which are free to attend - are taking place in community halls, parks, streets and green spaces all over the country.
Community Games is the brainchild of Legacy Trust UK, and, in conjunction with the YMCA and the County Sports Partnership Network, hope to create a lasting legacy of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
It’s thanks to people like Anthony Rhoden, nicknamed Huggy, who are helping to realise this dream.
Huggy, a basketball coach, has battled with dyslexia his whole life.
When he was a teenager he felt unable to cope with the pressures of his school workload – because of his condition – and desperately wanted to find another outlet where he felt like he ‘belonged’.
He longed to get involved in sport, but back then was severely overweight and felt he was too unfit.
It wasn’t until he was approaching his sixteenth birthday and preparing to leave the school gates behind him, a friend introduced him to basketball.
Desperate to get involved in the sport, Huggy shed nearly half his body weight - losing 10 stone.
He immersed himself in basketball and while he still struggled with his dyslexia, to his delight he gained good results at school and went on to study at college.
His love of basketball continued to grow and he was desperate to give something back to help other youngsters that found themselves, like he once was, isolated.
So, he took it upon himself to coach youngsters after school.
He’s been doing this for more than 25 years, helping hundreds of students along the way.
Now he’s organised a Community Games at the Willesden Sports Centre in London.
The event is a family-orientated day with an emphasis on encouraging over 50s to keep active.
In Pevensey Bay, in the South East, one member of a senior citizens club has organised a Community Games event of a different kind.
Carole Hodge’s event, called ‘The Alternative Games’ will take its participants on a journey back in time inviting them to play games from their childhood.
She’s hoping it will encourage members of the community to interact and prevent them suffering from rural isolation.
While in Stockton-on-Tees one entrepreneur, who runs his own online retail company, has put together an event to help rake in some cash to install playground equipment in his local park.
Jez Glennon hopes his event will not only unite people on the day but leave a lasting legacy in his local park.
In Lincolnshire one Community Games organiser is hoping the event he puts on will help rejuvenate community spirit in one area.
Retired Co-op worker John Lane is tasked with organising the 1,000th registered Community Games.
He’s organising it in the Witham St Hugh area – a village that was once an RAF base.
It was set up back in August 1940 but was closed in 1993.
It has since been rejuvenated with a number of new homes in the area and John is hoping to reignite community spirit with his Community Games event.
As the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games approaches hundreds of events are being held, giving people an opportunity to enjoy the Olympics in their own areas.
Nikki Enoch, Community Games’ national project manager, said:
“I have been pleasantly surprised by how much the Community Games has captured the imaginations of local communities.
“We have been inundated with people from all over England who have contacted us to set up an event in their area and are delighted to see so many Community Games being held.
“I’m particularly excited about the Community Games being run during the Olympics – we have some fantastic events taking place and I believe this will really encourage people to get into the spirit of the 2012 Games and hopefully leave a lasting legacy in their communities.”