Inspiration was in the air on Glasgow’s south side as Team Scotland athletes joined over 900 school children for the inaugural Darnley CommonHealth Games on Tuesday 21 May.
Basketball star Kieron Achara and two-time Commonwealth Games squash player Kevin Moran joined other elite athletes, including members of Scotland’s World Championship winning Tug-of-War team, as youngsters from five local primary schools came together to try a wide range of sporting activities, storytelling and put their CPR skills to the test with Save a Life Scotland.
Kieron Achara, Team Scotland Gold Coast 2018 Basketball captain said:
“This is what I love to do. At London 2012 the aim was to ‘inspire a generation’ and I’ve never forgotten that, it’s something I’m passionate about. Just seeing the kids’ faces and the opportunities for them try a whole range of different sports is great to see. My message isn’t about Basketball per se or about being a professional athlete, it’s about just getting out there and you can achieve certain things and I think sport’s a great tool for that.
“Sport is my life, my education was through sport, I got a scholarship to go to America to get my degree, I’ve played professional Basketball and earned a living through sport. But that aside, sport has been a huge factor in me just feeling good, it’s helped me live a healthier lifestyle. My communication skills, my confidence, everything has been enhanced through sport.
“I think coming to an event like this shows how simple it can be to get involved in sport. When I first started playing Basketball I used to shoot into a bin in a local park. It doesn’t have to be the best facilities, the best this, the best that, it’s all about just giving it a try. Nobody wants to be told what to do, telling an 11 year old they should be active, they should do this or that won’t work as well as just getting out there, being active with them, showing that you can have fun playing sport. The big message from today is: here’s an opportunity to play sport, go out and enjoy it. The parents will probably me more thankful for the health benefits but the message to the kids is to just get out there and play.”
Winners of Community Hub, Club or School of the Year at last year’s Team Scotland Scottish Sports Awards, SAPC Community Sports Hub was created five years ago to provide free sport, help embrace diversity and improve the lives of young people and their families in and around Darnley, Greater Pollok and the surrounding areas of Glasgow South. SAPC’s work in the community, including international partnerships to provide Traditional Sports and Volunteering in Sport events, plus Pro Community Festivals for Cycling, Football and Netball, impressed the Awards judges and have helped to create stronger links with local schools, increased recruitment of volunteers and participants and have brought a good feeling to an area that has limited sporting facilities.
Building on the work done by SAPC and expanding the partnership established during the Awards process, the Darnley CommonHealth Games concept was developed by SAPC and Team Scotland to promote healthy lifestyles and to inspire and enable young people to take up and progress in a variety of sporting activities in their local area. The sheer joy and infectious enthusiasm on show, from children and over 70 community volunteers alike, was proof that the CommonHealth Games were a huge success. Team Scotland’s mascot Clyde was also on hand to lend his support and proved a big hit.
Tom Buik, Founder of SAPC Community Sports Hub said:
“It’s been excellent day with a lot of sport and activities, inspirational stories and we even got the weather. These kids are going to take a lot away from today and go home and talk about it and hopefully they’re inspired to take up sport and stay in sport.
“There wasn’t a club like us before and I think that’s a significant thing for this area. We’re providing free sporting activities in the local community, which makes a big impact, but we also have a lot of young volunteers and they’re learning life skills, getting qualifications through their volunteering and that inspires other young people to be involved. We’re taking young people to Croatia, Italy, Romania and Sweden for Erasmus programmes and we have events like this, so they feel that they’re part of something and know they’re going to be supported by the adult volunteers in the Hub.
“Partnerships are so important, you can’t pull something like this off on your own and having Team Scotland’s support for this event has made it possible for us to really elevate what we’ve done before. Having the elite athletes along has been fantastic for the kids, being able to relate to them and hear their stories, and you can see the interest level and excitement is so much more.
“I think today’s event will boost participation in all of our clubs and inspire more adults to get involved, now that they’re aware there’s a club right on their doorstep that they can volunteer with.”