PICTURE SPECIAL: Final Suffolk Youth Games is held

AS the 13th and final Suffolk Youth Games came to a close on Saturday, quite aptly in Olympic year, a leading figure behind the event’s success spoke fondly about its positive impact on local children.

The Games represent the largest multi-sport festival for young people in Suffolk and in the final year, ten sports, from badminton to basketball and cycling to boccia, were held.

The Youth Games began in the year 2000 to mark the Millennium and it was always envisaged that 2012, which at the time it was hoped would be the year of the London Olympics, would stage the final one.

Pupils aged between eight and 14, who enjoy sport but have not played at county, regional or international level are invited to “Come and Try” sessions or trial days.

Those sessions are followed by squad selections and subsequent training sessions before final selection of the Games teams.

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As a result of these training sessions, many young people will be given the opportunity to gain expert coaching in their chosen sport. Beyond the Games, ongoing coaching and competitive opportunities are then provided by these clubs and their respective Governing Bodies.

Terry McEntee, operations manager for Suffolk Sport said: “The Suffolk Youth Games has filled a gap that existed between school and community sport,” he said.

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“You would see some children play school sport but then never make the transition into community sport and a community club.

“In terms of growth (in participation), that has been steady but what has been evident is that we have been able to integrate young people wanting to take part in sport.

“It is sad that this will be the final year of the Suffolk Youth Games but the Suffolk School Games will continue to inspire more pupils to take part in their favourite sports.

“It is important to keep the link between the schools and local communities going and we will do that by giving young people information on local clubs as well as involving coaches from these clubs.”

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