An Oarsome Adventure for a “Famous 5” to NJIRC 2018, 9 March 2018
Event report from Stu Mcclelland, Oarsome Chance Trustee
For the first time, Oarsome Chance Foundation took a group of five young people, selected from its Young Mariners and Community Coastal Rowing Programmes, to London to compete in the National Junior Indoor Rowing Championships 2018 at the Lee Valley stadium. Open to 11-18 year olds, this annual event hosted by London Youth rowing, is the largest junior indoor rowing event in the world, growing year on year, with 2300 young people competing this year.
Oarsome Chance are the first multi-school youth group project, who are using indoor rowing as an engagement and training tool, to enter the NJIRC and they joined the other 76 schools that LYR work with in London and 60 nationwide schools who enter students. Oarsome Chance’s Lyla, Lee, Luke, Kaya and Jo, all trained hard in the preceding weeks at our Gosport rowing suite and all gave 100% in their competitions.
The NJIRC is a great opportunity for young people to represent their school, many for the first time. 50% of competitors are girls, and our first group contained 2 female participants, Lyla (Yr 7) and Kaya (Yr 11), both from our SHAC community rowing programme. Lee, Luke and Jo have been working with us on our Young Mariners Alternative Provision programme. The event really does draw in those young people that would not normally get the opportunity to race at a national event. All five of our students had never represented their school or a club group in a competition before. All were magnificent in their efforts and it was a very proud pair of supporters in Jesse and I, that cheered them on throughout the day.
We combined the trip to London with an overnight residential event hosted by the fabulous AHOY centre in Greenwich. Ahoy are also a charity that works with disadvantaged young people in South London and with whom we enjoy a fantastic relationship, we share a desire to bring opportunity to disadvantaged young people to raise their aspirations and self-confidence.
Ahoy have a new dormitory facility at their fantastic Thameside water-sports centre with amazing views of the Thames, Canary Wharf, Greenwich and the Cutty Sark. The evening before competition, our excited young people, enjoyed a walk along this historic part of riverside London to see the Cutty Sark and central Greenwich. For several of them this was the first overnight stay away from Gosport and a first trip to London.
As inexperienced rowers, the results that our ‘Famous 5’ achieved are a credit to their hard work and that of the OC support team: OC Principal John, and his instructor staff Jesse, Laura, Obelix and Simon. The OC competitors are all determined to do even better in 2019 and that is all we or anyone can ever ask of them. Well done to all of them, they did us proud.
A positive highlight of the adventure was to see Luke, engaged and connecting with Cain from Kings College Winchester in the warm up area as they both waited to go out into the competition arena, sharing high fives, smiling banter, support and communication. Cain, from a different social background has benefited from all the advantages in life that are not necessarily offered to our young people. Both learnt a great deal about each other through this wonderful competition day and it illustrated in this small example, the positive aspirations that we are achieving at Oarsome Chance.
As Nelson Mandela famously said, “Sport has the power to change the world” and we hope that through programmes like this our young people will grasp opportunity and change their worlds.
Join in, help us and see our young people on the podiums at NJIRC 2019.
- Lyla – 63rd out of 195 Yr 7 girls (9 mtrs outside top 50)
- Lee – 126th out of 188 Yr 7 boys (Lee is actually a Yr6, so has one more year in this category)
- Kaya – 22nd out of 40 Yr 12 girls (only 15 secs, out of over 8 minutes of rowing, outside a top 15 finish)
- Luke – 24th out of 42 Yr 11 boys (only 50 mtrs outside a top 20 distance)
- Jo – 37th in Yr 12 boys (20 seconds outside a top 20 finish out of 8 minutes of rowing)