International Youth Games back on track in Lancaster

The Lancaster International Youth Games squad.
The Lancaster International Youth Games squad.
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A sporting event for young people in Lancaster will go ahead this year after volunteers and businesses rallied in support.

Last year looked like it was the end of Lancaster’s 35 year involvement with The International Youth Games, after the city council pulled the plug on organising and funding the event due to cuts to its budget.

Young people from the city missed out on taking part in Germany in 2016.

But a fundraising drive and a £10,000 donation from The Duchy of Lancaster has ensured that the city’s budding young sportspeople can compete against other youngsters from twin towns including Aalborg in Denmark, Almere in the Netherlands and Rendsburg in Germany, once again.

The Games will take place between July 21-24 at Lancaster University for badminton, swimming, tennis and karate; Salt Ayre Sports Centre for athletics and cycling; and on the river Lune for rowing.

Around 150 young people from Lancaster will take part, with the same number coming from abroad.

Each town takes it in turn to host the Games, and Lancaster’s next event would be in 2021.

A committee has been working hard to train the teenagers and organise the Games since June 2016.

Chris Haggan, organiser and karate coach, said: “The Games would not be happening without the help of local people and businesses.

“Lancaster University and Lancaster City Council have offered provision free of charge, and the Duchy’s donation is amazing.

“We’ve had six months to organise for this year, and if we can get the funding to hold the event next time around, it’ll be a lot easier.

“It’s also much cheaper and easier when you travel to the other towns to take part.

“W’ve got enough funding to hold opening and closing ceremonies, but we’d normally provide a welcome bag for visiting teams, so if anyone can help, please get in touch.

Now that we’re leaving the EU, it’s more important than ever that we stay in contact with other countries, and the Games are a great way of doing that.”

Janie Ash, managing director of Better with Jam, which is providing branding and marketing for the Games, said: “When we heard about the heritage of the games, and how much it has benefited the youngsters taking part, we knew it was a project for us.

“The participants get to learn about other cultures and make friends for life, which is invaluable. “We wish them well and would urge other businesses to show this excellent organisation support.”

Check out the group’s Facebook page for more info.

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