CHILDREN from around the world united at the weekend to stage a spectacular sporting event.
Thousands of people packed into the Galpharm Stadium to watch the first ever Kirklees Youth Games.
And, despite the miserable weather, nothing could dampen the enthusiasm of the young performers or the crowd who cheered and clapped with delight as they witnessed some spectacular performances.
The two-hour extravaganza, held before the Huddersfield Giants versus Bradford Bulls Super League game, kicked off in style with a colourful parade around the pitch from many of the 2,500 participants, who flocked all over Kirklees as well as Germany, France, Poland and China to take part.
Welcoming the crowd, Clr Jim Dodds, Cabinet member for children’s services, said: “It’s an absolute delight for me to welcome you all here this afternoon for this exciting, thrilling and unique couple of hours of entertainment and fun, the likes of which has never been seen anywhere else in the country or involved so many young people.
“It’s great to see so many people here to support this very special occasion.
“I have been absolutely overwhelmed how it has galvanised support from schools, sports groups, sporting legends and personalities and sports associations from across Kirklees and beyond.
“It has gone way beyond what I was expecting and it is a credit to everyone who has been involved over the last two years.”
The event continued with a performance of the fanfare and anthem called Seize the Day, which was composed and recorded especially for the day.
This was followed by a variety of sport and dance displays by the children, including an energetic cheerleading performance by hundreds of children from schools across the area and a demonstration by young gymnasts from China.
Other highlights included an impressive demonstration of the ‘Yorkshire’ haka, performed by dozens of children and a firework display which marked the start of the match.
Youngsters also provided some half-time entertainment with an Olympic-style torch procession.
The children clearly had a fantastic time showing off their sports skills and well-practised routines in front of their captive audience.
Cheerleaders from South Crosland Junior School, one of twenty schools that took part in the display, said they had a great time.
Amber Rodgers, 11, said: “It’s been a lot of fun, I really enjoyed performing. I think it’s a good idea to have this because it’s something you don’t get the chance to do much.
“I think they should do this again near, I would definitely take part!”
Stuart Morrison, 13, got the chance to met Huddersfield sporting legend Derek Ibbotson when he presented him and fellow pupils from Holmfirth High School with medals for beating the world record that he set for running the mile in 1957.
Stuart and hundreds of other schoolchildren took part in the Golden Mile Challenge, which saw them racing as relay teams to beat the record set by Mr Ibbotson.
Stuart said: “We beat his record by three seconds, although we did have an advantage as there were a few of us while Derek had to do it on his own!
“It was great meeting him and being part of the Youth Games, I think it’s a really good idea to get children involved in something like this because it encourages them to be fit and healthy.”
The special guests from abroad also had a great time. Molly Mei, who brought a group of young gymnasts all the way from the Yuhang District in China, said: “It is the first time the children have been in this country and they all really loved coming here and meeting new friends from all over the world.
“It’s been a great opportunity for them and they were very excited to be part of this.”
The crowd were also very positive about the event. Russell Hunter, who attended with his family, said: “We really enjoyed it. I think it’s great to encourage children to get involved and take part in something that’s so positive.”
The Youth Games is the climax of two years of activities, competitions and projects involving schools and thousands of young people from across Kirklees.
The council decided to stage the massive celebration event to mark the success of the initiative and the year of the Beijing Olympics. It will also pave the way for future events and activities to be held in the run-up to the 2012 Olympics.
Debbie Barber, the council’s sport and recreation development manager who helped organise the Youth Games, said: “It’s a fantastic event and I’m really pleased with how well it’s been supported by everyone involved, including the children and the schools, the Giants and the stadium and the council.
“It’s totally unique and been done on such a massive scale, but everyone has pulled together to create something to remember and that everyone will hopefully be proud of.
“The children have worked so well together and really enjoyed themselves. This is such a fantastic thing for them to say they have been a part of.”
For more pictures of the event go to http://http://www.examiner.co.uk/videos-pics/galleries/