Harlow welcomes Essex Indoor Games

Education: Primary / Tue 21st Jan 2014 at 01:11pm

By Mark Sweeney

HARLOW welcomed over 800 students from across the county for the third annual Essex Winter Games, spreading throughout three venues.

The opening ceremony was conducted at the Harlow Leisure Zone, where the badminton, indoor rowing and table cricket events took place.

Following Pear Tree Mead Primary School’s dance performance, and a beautifully sung rendition of Beyonce’s ‘Halo’ by Burnt Mill Academy students, Eden Saunders, Isabelle Newman, Lucy Plamer and Yasmin Fitzgerald, Active Essex board member, Bob McKlintock announced, “Let the games begin!”

McKlintock explained, “It was actually Active Harlow that contacted Active Essex and invited us. The facilities here are excellent and the students have a great attitude, you can tell they want to be here and love competing.

“The point of Active Essex is to encourage young people to participate in sport and active activities. The Olympic Games inspired everybody and now it’s a question of answering the inspiration and aspiration. It’s events like this that help young people to realise their potential.”

The majority of students contested in Badminton, filling two sports halls, incorporating sixteen courts at once; with three teams from Burnt Mill Academy and one from Passmores Academy. Unfortunately neither school progressed to the play-off finals.

The games also hosted two new events, indoor rowing and table cricket.

It was not only Essex’s first indoor rowing competition, but organiser rowing Sharon Noble-Layng’s first event, pitting both boys and girls against each other in 2000k relay races.

Indoor rowing uses standard exercise rowing machines; linked up to an on-screen graphic that displays the boat’s position. As well as being as exciting as any realistic race, indoor rowing can be hosted anywhere and is a great introduction into the growing sport of rowing.

Noble-Layng explained how the perception of rowing is changing and how much it has grown. She said: “Some of the clubs are still elitist, but most are starting to open the doors and think outside the box more. They are trying to get away from the stereotype. Even as a woman it’s hard, it was a male dominated sport, but now it’s starting to look more like 50/50.

“There’s been a high demand after the Olympics, and we’re getting more kids into indoor rowing to start with and then out on to the water with a few local clubs.

“Only two girls competed today, which is a shame because it’s a great sport, even if you’re not that ‘sporty’, because there’s no contact. We will try to promote the sport for girls through the school games organisers.”

Table cricket is a disability sport, played on a table tennis table, with the physical needs of cricket eliminated. The game involves the bowler rolling the ball down a small ramp towards a batsman who must hit the ball for boundaries, without striking a boundary containing a fielder.

Disability development manager of Essex Cricket, Patrick Ward, was impressed by Harlow’s facilities and Active Essex’s involvement in promoting the sport.

Harlow MP, Robert Halfon, closed the event in saying, “It’s amazing to have the games in Harlow. We have fantastic sports in our schools all over town and it’s a very proud moment for us to have the school games here at the Leisure Zone, which everyone knows is one of the best in the country.

“To have the best of our schools performing along with other students from all over the county is great. Well done everyone, particularly the organisers.”

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