Barnstaple hosts Ability Games

Joseph Bulmer

ONE hundred and eighty young people from 14 Devon schools took part in the first ever Autumn Devon Ability Games at the Tarka Tennis Centre in Barnstaple last week.

The athletes, aged between 10 and 19 and with special educational needs or disability, were assisted by 60 volunteers, including from local community schools, Petroc and Plymouth University.

They took part in six different sports - football, tennis, athletics, rowing, badminton, tennis and boccia - an adapted form of bowls.

North Devon schools taking part were: Lampard School, Barnstaple; Petroc, Barnstaple Campus; South Molton; Holsworthy; Park, Barnstaple; Pilton, Barnstaple; Pathfield, Barnstaple; Bideford; Ilfracombe; and Marland School, Peters Marland.

Representatives from British Rowing, England Athletics, Tarka Tennis and School Sports Partnerships were present to coach and inspire the athletes to participate in sport at school and in their local community clubs. Their aim was also to spot future paralympians and to identify the pathways available for athletes to develop their full potential.

Paul Marshall the North Devon School Sports Partnership Development Manager, who is based in Great Torrington School, said: “Today we are able to give these young people an opportunity they would never normally have. It is a multi-sport environment and so, whatever your level of ability, you can take part. We hope that the youngsters will have enjoyed their day with us and want to continue to play sport and be active. We also need them to encourage their friends to get involved in sport and join local clubs. These clubs can be helped to get the correct equipment and coaching for everyone.”

At the closing ceremony The Devon Racqueteers, a local wheelchair badminton club who currently represent England in singles and doubles, gave a demonstration of how the top players do it.

The Autumn Devon Ability Games were awarded a London 2012 Inspire Mark to acknowledge that the day had been organised by all the partners to inspire young people.

For information about local athletics events and opportunities contact Job King the South-West Disability Athletics Support Officer on 07841 504311.