Thousands of school children from across Aberdeen would have been gearing up for the city’s largest free sporting extravaganza this week, marking the 7th annual Aberdeen Youth Games (AYG).

The event is a citywide initiative developed in partnership with registered charity Sport Aberdeen’s Active Schools team, Robert Gordon University (RGU) and the North East Scotland College (NESCol) with ongoing support from The Wood Foundation.  

Over 200 student coaches were set to deliver activities in primary schools, culminating in the Festival of Health at the Aberdeen Sports Village which would have taken place today (22 May).

The 2020 primary programme kicked off at a launch event held at RGU in March, after last year saw a record-breaking number of pupils take part. However, this year’s finale has sadly been cancelled due to the Covid-19 outbreak.

This event followed on from a hugely successful secondary youth games programme that deployed RGU students into secondary schools and hosted a festival where over 400 pupils took part in five different sports earlier in the year.

Olympic gold medallist Dr Katherine Grainger CBE and Chairman of The Wood Foundation, Sir Ian Wood CBE, have been amongst the AYG ambassadors since its launch in 2014.

Graeme Dale, Sport Aberdeen Head of Sport and Active Communities, said:

“The initiative has become a hugely anticipated and enjoyable event in Aberdeen’s school sporting calendar, and it underlines the importance of keeping young people active in a fun environment whilst giving students invaluable experience.

“We are proud to continue working with RGU and NESCol to deliver the games and the effort which the Active Schools team put in to help foster a culture of physical activity amongst young people in the city is admirable. Thanks to the continuing support of The Wood Foundation, the Aberdeen Youth Games will return next year and the partnership will now use this time to start planning on how 2021 can be the best yet.

“In the meantime, I would encourage everyone to keep an eye on the Sport Aberdeen website and social channels where you can find a multitude of free resources aimed at keeping young people healthy, active and motivated during this challenging time.”

Sir Ian Wood, Chairman of The Wood Foundation, said:

“The Aberdeen Youth Games ‘Festival of Sport’ is always a wonderful day and a great opportunity to see so many young people come together to enjoy sport.

“What’s more important is that healthy lifestyles and exercise are essential for physical and mental wellbeing. Schools have a vital role to play in this area and can be well supported in this through partnerships like this.

“Unfortunately, this event is yet another casualty of Covid-19 and it is sad we’re missing this year’s programme. However, we are pleased to be in a position to realign our funding to delivery in 2021 and will once again enjoy what is an outstanding day in our philanthropic calendar.”

Thomas Craig, Lecturer in Sport and Exercise Science RGU, said:

“Robert Gordon University has a long standing and valued relationship with Sport Aberdeen, NESCol and The Wood Foundation which culminates every year in the Aberdeen Youth Games. We are understandably disappointed that this year it was not possible to complete the Aberdeen Youth Games.

“We would again like to thank our partners for the experience they provided our students on the preparatory build up, which was once again exceptional.

“We look forward to next year where our students can reciprocate this through the placement opportunities that lead to a successful Aberdeen Youth Games, whilst creating a lasting positive impact on the children and young people of Aberdeen.”

Neil Tattersal, Curriculum Manager for Sport at North East Scotland College, said:

“The Aberdeen Youth Games have become a massive part of the community sporting calendar for the city and something all of our students look forward to supporting every year.

“More than 200 NESCol students from a range of sports courses normally attend this event and share their passion and enthusiasm for sport with the participants. Events like this illustrate the positive impact sport has on the local community. By working together with Active Schools and RGU to deliver the Youth Games we can encourage more children to get more active more often.”

Although the citywide event has been put on hold this year, registered charity Sport Aberdeen has been working hard to produce an online programme of free resources, aimed at encouraging children to remain active while schools and extracurricular activities remain on hold.

Get active @ Home Junior is an online hub of free resources, ideas and challenges specifically designed for children and families; helping to keep everyone active whilst schools and extracurricular activities are on hold due to the ongoing pandemic.