Parents are being invited to sign their children up for this year’s Manx Youth Games, which has this year added BMX biking to its offering.
Offering children a chance to try new sports and compete against others from around the island, the games have been run by Manx Sport and Recreation since 2002.
In a normal year, the children would select a sport, have weeks of training and then the big day would be held in May. Thanks to the infamous rona and Lockdown 2 and 3, it hasn’t been possible to do the full programme of training this year, which has had a knock on effect on the momentum of the whole event. But that won’t take away from the main day.
Gef spoke to organisers Gianni Epifani and Gareth Lloyd who alongside the MSR team and sports coaches have worked hard to ensure not only that the event goes ahead, but that it is the success it always is.
Gianni said: ‘The key difference this year is that we’ve had two lockdowns so children haven’t had the opportunity to go to weekly training sessions, or very little opportunity. So we came up with a plan to roll out online registration which we haven’t done before, also it means we can give an idea to each sport of how many participants they’ll have on the day.’
He said that while the number of kids registered for the games is lower than in normal years, there are still several hundred signed up and they’re hoping more take the chance to take part.
As well as being able to register online, MSR is running two registration nights at the NSC next week where parents and carers can register their children and pick up their competitor’s shirt. On Tuesday May 11, registration is open for badminton, BMX, crown green bowls, girls football, handball, hockey and squash. The following night, registration is open for cricket, basketball, netball, swimming, tag rugby, table tennis and tennis. Both nights are from 6pm to 8pm in the cafe area in the main NSC building. You may also be able to turn up on the day, but it would be better to contact MSR before the day or register online.
Always keen to get as many children involved as possible, MSR has expanded its offering this year to include BMX biking, which is being held off site at the Noble’s Park BMX course.
Gianni said: ‘HSBC is our sponsor and they also sponsor British cycling so they felt it was important to have cycling involved in the MYG so we’re introducing BMXing. One of their ambassadors is Shanaze Reade, so she’s been helping us to promote the games as well.’
Gareth added: ‘We have a certain structure that sports are required to have behind them before they join the games, they need to be established. They don’t need to be mainstream sports, so we have squash which isn’t a mainstream sport but is a major part of the Games. The main part of the game is that these are the new players for those sports going forward, we’ve had a few participants who have started off here and gone on to represent the island and this is that foundation for getting kids into those sports.’
Gianni said that while the training has been disrupted, children’s school lives have also been put on hold and they have had long periods of being unable to mix in groups with other children which has had a negative impact on their mental health.
He said: ‘Especially with what has gone on in the last 12-18 months, the link between increased physical activity and mental health is clear and we can’t lose the value of that, it’s very important.’