West Norfolk’s village games mark 20 years

This year's event launched at Lynnsport

This year's West Norfolk village games competition has been launched - marking the 20th anniversary of the popular event.

Village sports managers past and present gathered at Lynnsport to launch the 21st games and to look back over the event's 20-year history.

It started life as the Inter-Village Games and began in 1992 just after Lynnsport was built in King's Lynn.

Initially the event was a reincarnation of the former village games which took place in the 1980s at Lynn's King Edward VII school. They were designed to encourage people in the rural villages to play sport and to enable them to use the facilities at Lynnsport.

Over the last 20 years the format of the games has changed very little, although some sports no longer take place and new ones such as archery and rounders have been added.

Roger Partridge, sports development manager, who has been involved with the games since the beginning, said: 'It's a format that works really well. Villages appoint a team manager and then draw together a team to take part in any or all of the sports available. Some people take part for fun and some are really competitive.

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'We've had some excellent support over the years from organisers, including Geoff Sturgeon and Graham Rogerson who have organised the badminton and table tennis for the past 20 years. None of it would be possible without the Village Sports team managers who encourage people from their villages to take part. One manager who stands out in particular is Clare Peak who raised a team from Harpley and Houghton each year from 1994 to 2009, winning the small village trophy in 1996.

'Great Massingham, lead by Malcolm Hipkin, were the domineering force on at least 10 occasions, but more recently Docking has become the force to be reckoned with, having won the small village trophy for the last six years.'

The games are split into two categories to make the competition fair - small village (under 1250 on the electoral roll) and medium village (1,251 - 4,250). Up to four parishes can join together to form a village team.

In 2010, thanks to a �550,000 lottery award secured by Active Norfolk, the programme was rolled out across the county and reborn as the Village Games. Each district has its own heat and then the winners for each category go on to represent their district at the county finals,

This year, the West Norfolk heat will take place at Lynnsport on Sunday, June 24. The deadline for entries is May 25. The winners will compete in the county finals on July 15 at the University of East Anglia Sports Centre in Norwich.

West Norfolk Council cabinet member Elizabeth Nockolds said: 'We're hoping for a bumper turnout. With the London Olympics in the summer I hope that people feel inspired to get involved with sport. People can choose which of the 13 different sports they want to compete in and with everything on offer from 5-a-side football, rounders and netball, through to indoor bowls and archery, there really is something for everyone.'

For more information about the village games, click on the web link on this page or call Amy East on 07795 301526 or Roger Partridge on 01553 818017.

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