Black Country School Games Summer Festival brings cheers and smiles

Almost 2,000 excited children got on their marks for the annual Black Country School Games Summer Festival, held to inspire sports activities.

Pupils from Parkfield Primary School, Wolverhampton, including, front, Tevandre, aged 8
Pupils from Parkfield Primary School, Wolverhampton, including, front, Tevandre, aged 8

For some of the athletes, the four boroughs sports day was the first time in two years that they were able to take part in any form of inter-school sport competition due to the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.

And there were smiles all round as the 1,750 delighted pupils dressed in red, yellow, blue and green T-shirts - along with 250 youth volunteers and teachers representing Walsall, Wolverhampton Sandwell and Dudley - turned out in force at Wolverhampton University's Gorway Campus, in Highgate, Walsall, on Friday.

Pupils from St Anne's Primary School, Streetly, with 'Perry'

Grace Academy, based in Herberts Park Road, Darlaston, fielded a total of 48 pupils including Lexi Dubczyk, 13, who was looking forward to competing in rugby and dodgeball.

Lexi said: "This is our first sports competition since we've started at Grace Academy two years ago. That's due to the pandemic which is really sad, but we're here now and having a good time."

Her team mate Tallya Lewis, 13, said: "I am quite excited about being here with the other people and hopefully we'll win."

Imogen, aged 8, from St Anne's Primary School, Streetly

Those taking part in the junior tri-golf competition included Noel Wilkinson, aged nine, of Cotwall End Primary School, in Sedgley, who said: "I'm so excited to be here. There are 10 of us in our team. I'm really looking forward to playing as we're pretty good."

His PE teacher Greg White added: "I've brought 20 pupils and the younger team will take part in the multi-skills event comprising of activities relating to balance, throwing and catching skills."

Alfie Kinsell, 12, of West Bromwich Collegiate Academy, in Kelvin Way, who will also be a Birmingham Commonwealth Games baton bearer said: "I'm in the dodgeball team today and I also play football for Bustleholme Albion and I play cricket.

Pupils from Hargate Primary School, West Bromwich

"I love sports. It makes me feel really happy. It's an honour to be here. PE is my favourite lesson."

Tanveer Kaur, 13, was among a 16-strong team from Heath Park School, in Prestwood Road, Wolverhampton. She said: "We're having a lot of fun. I didn't expect there to be so many other schools here.

"We're the winners of the Wolverhampton School Games dodgeball competition and we're pretty confident that we will win here as well."

Pupils from St Andrew's Primary School, Wolverhampton

Organised by Active Black Country and the School Games, the event is aimed to inspire children to participate in and enjoy sports.

The youngsters were cheered on by the Commonwealth Games mascot Perry.

Event host and former Team GB Olympic gymnast Craig Heap welcomed the youngsters at the opening ceremony which featured dance performances including from pupils and bhangra group BBX Fitness to warm up the crowd, and School Games flag bearers from each borough.

Craig Heap with his Commonwealth Games medals

There was also a video presentation featuring the Smile for Joel charity, which was set up in memory of football referee Joel Richards, 19, who along with his uncle Adrian Evans and grandfather Patrick Evans died in the Tunisia terror attack in June 2015.

Black Country School Games chairman Bille Downie said: "These games are about children coming together as part of their school and society through sports. They get to engage in physical activity and sports and we need young people to be active following the pandemic.

"If we don't, the picture doesn't bode well in terms of tackling obesity and conditions such as diabetes."

Pupils from St Anne's Primary School, Streetly

Craig Heap said: "It's absolutely fantastic to see the young people taking part in sport. Not everyone is academic. This is an opportunity for those children to shine and also it's a day off school!"

Harriet, aged 8, from St Anne's Primary School, Streetly

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