BMX star Shanaze Reade officially launched the 19th HSBC Manx Youth Games at the National Sports Centre in Douglas on Monday.
The 31-year-old, who competed at two Olympic Games and won multiple world titles in both BMX and track cycling, said she was ‘honoured’ to attend and praised the vital role volunteers and coordinators play as role models to the young participants.
Since its inception in 2002, more than 20,000 six to 16-year-olds have taken part in a host of sports - with many going on to join clubs and participate in community sport.
This year BMX will be included in the Games for the first time, alongside 14 other sports, which will form the Isle of Man’s biggest multi-sport event of the year for children and young people.
‘The Isle of Man has created superstars like Mark Cavendish and who knows, this year we might discover the next BMX star; success breeds success. Being involved in a sport builds children’s confidence and helps them to realise that anything is possible.
‘The Games give young people the chance to learn and participate in many sports and I’m sure it will create the role models of the future.’
‘The facilities on this Island are amazing and with the passion of the coordinators and helpers, I’m sure the 2020 Games will be another huge success.’
Graham Cregeen MHK, Minister for Education, Sport and Culture, said:
‘The HSBC Manx Youth Games have delivered a springboard into community sport since 2002 and provide sports opportunities for more people, to be more active, more often.
‘The longevity and success of the Games depend on two things; the continued support of HSBC and the army of volunteers who deliver weekly sessions to more than 1,000 children ahead of the Games in May.
‘I’d like to them all for their support again this year and having a multiple world champion like Shanaze involved will, I’m sure, inspire many to participate.’
Tristen Bell, HSBC Head of Retail Banking and Wealth Management in the Isle of Man said:
'The HSBC Manx Youth Games have become an integral event in our community and it’s fantastic to support young people across the island. HSBC is committed to promoting physical and mental health and wellbeing through sport and the Games are a fantastic way of doing this.'
Each of the 15 coordinators, one in each sport, attended the launch as did two newly appointed Games Ambassadors. Teenager Shannan McMullan, who has competed at two Manx Youth Games, said:
‘Taking part opened my eyes to a different world and I love it. I have learnt about crown green bowls and now I compete for the Island in international competitions. The coaches helped me learn the game and my confidence as a person grew with it. Now I want to help others enjoy the sport.’
Training sessions will start on Monday 27 January and run up to the day of the Games on 16 May.