Rousing cheerleading routines and a fabulous football demonstration helped kick off a festival of South Yorkshire school sport.
More than 1,200 primary and secondary school pupils from Sheffield, Rotherham, Barnsley and Doncaster cheered on their teams at the opening ceremony of the third annual South Yorkshire winter school games.
Team GB Judo Olympian Sophie Cox, who represented Great Britain at the 2004 and 2012 Olympic Games, was on hand to open the winter finals, at the English Institute of Sport Sheffield in Attercliffe yesterday, following weeks of qualifying rounds in the region.
Games chairman Nick Bowen, principal at Barnsley’s Horizon Community College, said: “For the children taking part, this is their Olympics – they walk into the venue feeling like a million dollars and it really does take your breath away, to realise you’re involved in something so big.
“The atmosphere is just incredibly, fantastic.
“The games are a great way for pupils in our county to take part in competitive sport, showcase their talents, but also learn important values like teamwork.
“These games are so inclusive. We have students of all abilities demonstrating so many different skills and they’re all engaged together.
“I love seeing them all in their different coloured T-shirts and seeing the combination of competition and support. It’s inspiring.”
Freestyle football star Ash Randall went down a storm as he flipped, caught and balanced balls, water bottles – and even shoes – in a demonstration before proceedings got under way.
The games showcases the sporting excellence of South Yorkshire youngsters in a variety of sports, including athletics, gymnastics, cheerleading, boccia, new age kurling, netball, basketball and judo.
Coun Vickie Priestley, Lord Mayor of Sheffield, who attended yesterday’s ceremony, said: “Games like these are massively important for the wellbeing of children and for their future – we could be looking at future Olympians and that’s really exciting to imagine.”
Simon Pugh, development manager at games organiser South Yorkshire Sport, said: “The spirit, energy and skill shown by the pupils was simply incredible. We were particularly delighted to be able to welcome Sophie Cox and believe she really inspired the students to achieve their best.
“The school games really are an important part of the Olympic legacy work taking place across the county.”
The winter finals will be followed by a summer event at Doncaster’s Keepmoat Stadium on Tuesday, July 1.
n For details, visit sysport.co.uk