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More than 300 youth zone members, staff and volunteers gathered at Mahdlo on Saturday, 9th March for a very special day: the inaugural Presidents Cup competition.
Named after the tournament’s sponsor, an OnSide founder patron and President of Mahdlo, Norman Stoller, the day saw a raft of games and activities, giving a selection from each youth zone’s junior and senior members a chance to pit their wits against each other to see who would come out on top – and take on the role of host youth zone for next year.
The games were also a chance to celebrate the fact that more than £50m has been raised in the past five years to build and run youth zones, which now have more than 10,000 members – and give members from hundreds of miles apart a chance to meet each other.
Six teams participated in total, including a team from Wigan Youth Zone, despite the fact it won’t open until June. We were extremely pleased to welcome Bolton Lads and Girls Club too, the inspiration for our Youth Zones.
The Factory Youth Zone‘s Dance guru, Danny Price, who has choreographed and worked with celebrities including Prince and Madonna, led all the participants in a huge warm-up in the sports hall, after which the youth zones got down to some serious competition. You can see videos of the warm up on OnSide’s Youtube page.
After hard-fought battles in unihock, boccia, hoopball, dodgeball, tug-o-war, fitness and endurance tests, and a Gangnam Style dance-off, Blackburn Youth Zone pipped Mahdlo to the post right at the last minute to take the trophy as overall winners. Each youth zone won at least one of the events in which they participated, demonstrating the breadth of talent and skill that is being developed in young people across the network.
Carlisle Youth Zone was awarded the Bill Holroyd Trophy for Fair Play, an award which was judged by two representatives of Young Advisors. They complimented Carlisle, who had set off for Mahdlo at around 6.30am, on their respect for other players, good communications skills and determination in the face of adversity. They placed fourth overall in the tournament.
Greg Stalker, Senior Youth Worker at Carlisle said, “I’m absolutely delighted with how the team performed. It’s no exaggeration to say that it’s one of, if not the proudest moment of my youth work career so far when I heard CYZ’s name announced. I’m really, really proud of them all.”
The event also gave OnSide an opportunity to raise awareness of its work more widely. The outgoing chief executive, Jerry Glover gave an interview about OnSide and the tournament on BBC Radio Manchester on Saturday morning, whilst local media in Oldham, Carlisle and Blackburn look set to cover the story as well – so look out for pictures of your local team!