2023 looks set to be a bumper year for sport in Guernsey with the island hosting the Specsavers Youth Games in May and the Natwest International Island Games in July.
Children in school years 5 and 6 will be able to try one of 23 different sports as part of this year’s Youth Games, that’s more than ever before.
The biennial event is jointly hosted by the Guernsey Sports Commission and Specsavers and pupils are encouraged to sign up and try a sport they don’t usually take part in. In honour of the Island Games, the children will compete for one of six teams named after some of the islands competing in July. The children will have the chance to train in their new sports before the final competition on ‘Games Day’ on Saturday 20th May.
The GSC’s Youth Games Coordinator, Nicky Will, said this year’s event was going to be bigger and better than ever before.
‘This will be the tenth Specsavers Youth Games and we are excited to have so many sports for the children to try, including a few new ones such as skateboarding, stand-up paddle boarding, gymnastics and padel tennis.
‘This is a great opportunity for young people to take part in a large-scale and exciting event. It will encourage them to establish new friendships, build their confidence and improve social and life skills, while getting free access to a new sport,’ said Nicky.
‘We are also delighted to be able to extend the Youth Games experience to pupils from St Anne’s School in Alderney who will be able to choose one of six sports to take part in that they will be able to continue to play in Alderney once the Games are over.
‘Thanks to support from the Alderney Sports Foundation we are aiming to bring all the children over by ferry from Alderney for Games Day and will be sending some of our sport specific development officers over to the island to run some specific training sessions there in the run up to the big day,’ said Nicky.
The aim of the Youth Games is to promote the value of sport to young people with the emphasis on fun and fair play. In order to learn as much as possible about each sport, coaching sessions will take place in the weeks before the games themselves.
‘We couldn’t do this without the amazing support from our member sports and their coaches and volunteers who go out of their way to make sure the young people have the opportunity to learn about their chosen sport, understand the skills and tactics needed, and get the chance for plenty of practice before the final competition on Games Day.
'Since the first Games in 2005, the event has hosted nearly 5,000 children and fortunately Specsavers has been happy to carry on supporting us to make this biennial event an unforgettable day in the island’s sporting calendar,’ said Nicky.
A brochure and application form will be handed out to all pupils in Years 5 and 6 over the next couple of weeks outlining all of the sports available, the training dates and times and any further requirements for selecting the sports. Children can also access all of the information, including the application form, online at https://guernseysports.com/programmes/youth-games/
The young people compete for their allocated teams with points being scored in each individual sport competition contributing to a final overall team score, which is announced at a fun closing ceremony at the end of Games Day.
Specsavers co-founder, Dame Mary Perkins, hopes that the event along with the Natwest Island Games later in the year will continue to inspire a new generation of athletes.
‘We are really proud to be able to continue our support of the Specsavers Youth Games which we can’t believe is now in its 10th year,’ she said.
‘The atmosphere at the games is always electric and the smiles on the children’s faces remind me what this event is all about – encouraging and nurturing sport among our young people in Guernsey, building their confidence, having fun and giving them a chance to make new friends.’