Young people from across the borough enjoyed representing Team Guildford at the 23rd Specsavers Surrey Youth Games hosted at Surrey Sports Park, over the weekend. Over 1,600 young people from across the county came together for the festival weekend, which aims to celebrate their achievements and provide a positive experience of sports and physical activity.

The Specsavers Surrey Youth Games delivers accessible, inclusive, and fun opportunities for young people to increase their activity levels, try new experiences, and enjoy participating in sports and physical activity.

In the lead up to the Games weekend, the Council works with local sports clubs, leisure centres, and coaches to provide seven weeks of free taster sessions in a variety of sports and activities. These beginner sessions are open to young people aged 6 to 16 who go to school in, or live in Guildford. This year, Guildford attracted a record number of beginners to the taster sessions, with 290 young people enjoying their first taste of community sports coaching and the chance to enjoy being physically active.

Cllr James Steel, Lead Cllr for Leisure, Heritage, Tourism and PR and Communication says: “It was amazing to see so many young people enjoying being active at the Specsavers Surrey Youth Games weekend. Staying active and healthy is so important throughout life, and it is great to see so many young people doing this through their first experience at the Surrey Youth Games. The Council’s local taster session programme in the lead up to the games weekend provided a great introduction to sporting activity, in a welcoming and fun environment. The development of opportunities for people to participate in sports and physical activity in Guildford is a key aim for the Council. I hope that this experience will increase the desire to continue being active, for all the young people involved. ”

Changes to the core values of the Specsavers Surrey Youth Games this year, meant that those young people in our communities who think sports and physical activity is not for them, got to try something new in a safe and welcoming environment, where they did not feel intimidated by their ‘sporty’ peers. This year we engaged more young people who typically have little or no experience of sports and physical activity.

Team Guildford entered 144 young beginners in the festival weekend, all of which were new to their chosen activity. All players showed a positive attitude towards being active, having fun, and great sportsmanship throughout the festival weekend. There were smiles all round for our players and their families as they competed on a level playing field with other beginners from across the county.

We worked with frontline workers across youth services, education and health, who have an existing relationship with young people and could make a real difference in encouraging and supporting young people to sign up to the free taster sessions. This included the Matrix Trust youth charity who we worked with to provide a six week ‘sporting festival’ for young people who attend their Friday night youth club in Bellfields. We also partnered with Ash Tennis Club to deliver a second tennis taster programme beyond Guildford town centre, aiming to make the sessions more accessible for more young people. Our Community Wellbeing Team supported our table tennis sessions at King’s College. We are hoping to develop more partnerships like this in 2020.

Team Guildford came second overall in the borough fair play trophy, demonstrating the excellent sportsmanship of our players and coaches. Guildford fielded 23 teams in the Games weekend festival, bringing home gold in the under 16 mixed contact boxing competition.