400 children compete in the third School Games
THE third Herald Express School Games has been hailed a resounding success.
A total of 400 children from every primary and secondary school in Torbay took part in the event at the Torbay Leisure Centre in Paignton.
It was their own version of this year's Commonwealth Games, with schools adopting their own country.
The games were once again organised by the Torbay Sport Partnership in conjunction with the Herald Express.
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There was also backing from Newton Abbot-based sports on line firm Pro-Direct and Lloyds TSB.
Torbay Council also supported the event using it to drive home its special Every Day Counts anti-truancy campaign.
Competition was fierce among the young athletes taking part in the eight sports.
Organisers insisted taking part was the main thing and 'everyone's a winner'.
John Julyan, development manager with the Torbay Sport Partnership, said: "It's been a fantastic day. We were blessed with some lovely weather.
"It has been a very successful day. It was brilliant. Everyone went away hot but happy."
Primary schools in the three towns were paired up in a family of schools headed by one secondary school.
The older children managed the teams and made sure the day went smoothly.
Eight families of schools, each representing a Commonwealth country, took part in the games and fielded youngsters in each of the eight sports represented.
Because India is hosting the Commonwealth Games this year, kabbadi, an invasion game similar to tag which is very popular in India, was introduced this year.
The Indian theme ran through the entire event, with a procession of children snaking around the leisure centre into the main hall being led by the 'Indian delegation' from the Torquay Community College family of schools.
Girls from Churston Ferrers Grammar School also entertained the crowds with a Bollywood show before the sporting action got under way.
Adam Last, a PE teacher at Torquay Boys Grammar School, was the one who suggested kabbadi as one of the games.
He said: "For us it was a great event. We had 16 boys taking part and eight boys from some of the primary schools in the Bay who will be with us next year. The girls' grammar school had a similar arrangement.
"It was a great transition exercise."
Steve Trust, a PE teacher with Brixham Community College, said: "It was a great way to get the kids excited about PE and try things they're not accustomed to."
The eight sports were archery, athletics, a bowling game called boccia, kabbadi, rifle shooting, short tennis, table tennis and triathlon.
Matt Briant, a PE coordinator at Barton Primary School, said: "Children have really enjoyed the experience. It was so well organised, especially considering the number of children and sports involved.
"They had the chance to try something which is not on the curriculum like shooting and archery, see things differently and be out of their comfort zone which is good."
Kayleigh Darke, 10, from Barton Primary, said it was the first time she took part in the games.
She said: "It was really exciting. I was really looking forward to it and I practised playing table tennis for two weeks every lunchtime."
Hope Speed, 14, from Westlands, was roped in to be a team manager. She said: "I really loved it. I've always enjoyed sports."
Fellow team leader, Sophie Wolf, 15, was a triathlon team leader.
Her role was to make sure the younger children started on time and enjoyed themselves.
She said: "I made sure I encouraged them a lot as well."
The games were formally opened by Torbay mayor Nick Bye and Olympian medallist Miriam Batten who dispensed words of encouragement to the children throughout the day.
She said: "Young people see me as a role model. I try to set the example by being friendly and by encouraging them to do the best they can and enjoy the day.
"They see me as an Olympian silver medallist but I'm just an ordinary woman. If it helps them think that if I can do it then can do it, all the better."
Mr Julyan said he was now thinking about next year's games and hoped to strengthen the links with the Herald Express and Lloyds TSB to make 2011's event even bigger.
He said: "We will probably revert back to the Olympics theme next year in time for the London 2012 Games in London."