New games opening sports up to older communities

A new pioneer programme has been established with the aim of increasing participation by older people in sport and physical activity, to boost the quality of their social lives and overall health.

A new pioneer programme has been established with the aim of increasing participation by older people in sport and physical activity, to boost the quality of their social lives and overall health.

Kilkenny Recreation and Sports Partnership (KRSP), along with its southeastern counterparts, participated in the pilot initiative for older men. It has been developed by ‘Go for Life’, which was funded through the Community Foundation of Ireland with additional support from INTERREG Age Friendly Communities Project in Kilkenny.

Scientific research has proven that participation in physical activity by older adults is a way of reducing the effects of degenerative diseases such as arthritis and osteoporosis. Furthermore, physical activity for older adults can also increase flexibility, balance and strength. It boosts self confidence, enhances social contact and is a valuable tool in increasing longevity.

Older men in Kilkenny were invited to try out the Go for Life games at a workshop held in the Watershed in October. From the outset, there was huge interest in the activities, with 28 men trying their hands at the new games.

The men spent the last five weeks preparing diligently for the event each Tuesday night at the Watershed, under the guidance of Seamus Nugent, who is currently on student placement with KRSP.

The games brought together teams from Carlow, Wexford, Waterford, South Tipperary and Kilkenny. Teams consisted of 12 players, and initially it was hoped to get one team from Kilkenny. However, interest at the first meeting was such that the organisers agreed to allow two teams from Kilkenny to participate.

And indeed, Kilkenny got the better of the surrounding counties by winning the tournament held in Kilkenny on Wednesday, November 7.

The three games played are variations on popular games: Lobbers (an adaptation of petanque), scidil (a variation of ten-pin bowling) and flisk (similar to frisbee and horseshoe pitching).

The beauty of Go for Life games is that they can be played in any community centre. The games are played in singles, doubles and team format.

Honesty and fair play are encouraged and expected, making the use of umpires/referees minimal. One of the best features is that players are active throughout the games.

Equipment for the games is very affordable and easy to transport. Because of this, it is easy to arrange league games and tournaments.

Last Wednesday, the Kilkenny teams took home awards for best scidil team and best flisk team. In addition, special ‘Spirit of the Games’ awards were presented to three Kilkenny players – Bob McMunn, George Dewberry and Micheál Ó Máirtín.

So keen was the competition that scores had to be counted three times. Kilkenny won by the narrowest of margins from Wexford.

‘’It was great to see men from different backgrounds all come together to have fun and represent their county in the initial regional Go for Life games last week’’, said Nicola Keeshan, co-ordinator of Kilkenny Recreation and Sports Partnership.

The emphasis in Go for Life games is on fun. Wednesday provided the opportunity to socialise with the teams from other counties.

This meant that craic and banter between the teams was plentiful. There was also a competitive edge to some of the games, with no quarter asked or given in the search for vital points.

KRSP will support the development of the Go for Life Games in Kilkenny with a view to assisting in the organisation of a league, inter-county games and a Kilkenny representation at the proposed national games in Dublin next year.