THOUSANDS of South Yorkshire youngsters are to experience the Olympic spirit this year in the county’s very own School Games.
Two celebrations of sport will be held in Sheffield before the main event begins in August.
A Winter Festival will be held at the English Institute of Sport in Attercliffe on March 12 and 13.
That will be followed by a Summer Festival on July 2 and 3 at the Abbeydale Sports complex.
Organisers will then seek to build on the excitement and enthusiasm for sport expected to be generated by the Olympics by holding similar events in 2013 and 2014.
The festivals will see youngsters from hundreds of primary and secondary schools across Sheffield, Rotherham, Barnsley and Doncaster competing at various age groups across a wide range of sports, including events for youngsters with disabilities.
The most successful individuals will go forward to national finals to be held in London’s Olympic facilities.
Organisers estimate 3,200 young athletes from over 280 schools will be involved.
The winter festival will feature athletics, netball, gymnastics, basketball, cheerleading, boccia and new-age curling.
The summer event will feature tennis, cricket, rugby union, rounders, rowing and football.
Both festivals, which will also showcase some of the best school work in dance, drama and music, will have opening, closing and medal ceremonies based on the Olympic and Paralypmic games. They will be the culmination of school and inter-schools competitions.
Helen Cund, head of operations for South Yorkshire Sport, said: “The School Games will provide young competitors from across South Yorkshire with a unique Olympic style experience.
“The Games aim to further revive the culture of competitive sport in schools.”
Similar events will also be taking place across the country. The first national festival will take place this summer.