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Inclusion and inspiration through sport

  • 20 December 2021

Twenty-four Gonville & Caius College students enjoyed a fun-filled day at the Powerhouse Games, held in conjunction with charity Power2Inspire.

Power2Inspire promotes inclusion through sport, with the Caius Powerhouse Games, held at the University Sports Centre, seeing Caius students and pupils from local schools form mixed teams to play sports including walking football, sitting netball, new age kurling and Paralympic disciplines sitting volleyball, goalball and boccia.

Sophie Barnett (Philosophy 2019) and Ciara Mayers (History 2019) coordinated the Caius students, working with Power2Inspire founder and chief executive John Willis, a Trinity Hall alumnus, to incorporate Year 5 pupils from Quilters Junior School, additional needs pupils from Melbourn Village College, and Year 9 pupils from King’s School, Ely.

“It was really nice to be able to play sports which are for everyone,” Sophie says.

“At the start people may think the teams being inclusive is about the spirit of the games – and it is about that, but the games are great at showing that everyone has their different individual strengths and they are stronger working together for the benefit of the team. I loved seeing this change, and seeing the students become comfortable with each other, overcoming any initial hesitancy.”

It was the second Caius Powerhouse Games, after the first in February 2020 was coordinated by Luke Cavanagh and Alex Parton (English 2018), who both graduated last summer.

Ciara, pictured below right, adds: “Sport is something that can easily be made accessible. There are so many ways you can adapt it and it can be so much fun.”

Sitting netball

Ciara, who plays netball for Caius, enjoyed sitting netball most, but also enjoyed goalball and boccia. Goalball is played by visually impaired athletes who are blindfolded and must save and throw a ball containing a bell. Boccia is like the French game Boules and at Paralympic level is played by athletes with cerebral palsy or similar functional impairments.

“With the blindfolds on there was a lot of trust required for goalball and it was really fun,” Ciara adds.

“Boccia was really easy to understand and do. Everyone could win at any time – you didn’t have to let someone win, as sometimes happens in competitive settings. Everyone was giving their best shot and different people won at different times.”

Goalball and walking football in the background

Power2Inspire has hosted Powerhouse Games for different groups, with the inclusive messages the same.

John says: “It’s wonderful to see how the barriers break down. The special needs kids are the focus, treated equally, playing games that are accessible and inclusive for everyone, so they can get involved and have fun. And independent and state school kids get to deal with each other as people, rather than wearing a badge.

“It was wonderful to see the confidence of the additional needs kids grow in front of us, as they realised their team-mates were going to be friendly, helpful and fun. That was fantastic.”

John hopes more students will be encouraged to take part in future.

John adds: “It doesn’t require sporting talent to come along – all it requires is a talent to have fun.”

Caius students talk about their experience of the Powerhouse Games: 

Photos and video courtesy of Power2Inspire

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