The countdown to the largest youth sporting event in the county has officially begun after pupils from across Lancashire celebrated the launch of this year’s SPAR Lancashire School Games at a fun-filled event.
Pupils from nine schools across the county gathered at Preston-based James Hall & Company Ltd in preparation for months of sporting competitions alongside the school games mascot, the Lancashire Lion, while pupils were also treated to an inspirational speech from Team GB race walker and world record holder Tom Bosworth.
Organised by Lancashire Sport Partnership, the SPAR Lancashire School Games comprises a series of inclusive sporting events that provides competitive opportunities for all school children across the county. The annual Disability Swimming Gala will take place on March 20 at Lancaster’s Salt Ayre Leisure Centre, while the county finals will be held at Blackpool’s Stanley Park on July 3.
More than 3,500 children from schools across Lancashire’s 15 districts will now battle it out for a place at the county finals in 16 sports including gymnastics, football, athletics, mixed cricket and touch rugby.
To mark the programme launch, Team GB race walker and world record holder Tom Bosworth enlightened children with an inspiring speech about his career, sharing an insight into how sport has changed his life.
Tom said: “Any campaign or organisation that gets children interested in sport is priceless. I was introduced to professional sport by being influenced to get involved with athletics at a young age and I have never looked back. It has completely altered the course of my life, so if the school games programme influences just one child to take up sport, it will all be worth it.”
The SPAR Lancashire School Games is the biggest school games programme of its kind and is implemented by the county’s school games organisers. This year will mark the twelfth year since the first SPAR Lancashire School Games, which is sponsored by James Hall & Company Ltd, the SPAR distributors for the north of England. Over £128m of National Lottery and Government funding has been invested into the school games programme.
Children were also given a unique insight into life at SPAR with an exciting behind-the-scenes tour of the depot offices, warehouse and food production areas.
Peter Dodding, sales and marketing director at James Hall & Company Ltd, said: “The Lancashire School Games has become an integral part of the calendar for us here at SPAR. We look forward to it each year and are proud to be part of an initiative that is a catalyst for inspiring young people to take up competitive sport.
“The event was a huge success in getting schools from across the county together to build momentum for the next few months of fun, competitive sport.”
Adrian Leather, chief executive at Lancashire Sport Partnership, added: “It is a pleasure to see so many children from across the county involved with the annual SPAR Lancashire School Games. It’s a programme of events I personally look forward to each year and one that’s instrumental in helping achieve our goal of getting people active, keeping people moving and improving people’s lives, while enabling children to have fun in sport.
“Thanks to James Hall & Company Ltd, the Lancashire School Games just keep evolving. This year an additional 1,500 children will participate, with more sports such as quick sticks and quad kids added to the timetable too. The games get bigger and brighter each year and we can’t wait to get started again.”