In 2005 Kerry was represented at the International Children’s Games for the first time in Coventry by a team of 20 athletes from Tralee, joined for the first time also by the city of Kecskemet, Hungary. Now, 15 years later the team from Kerry travels to Hungary for this year’s event, which will be hosted by Kecskemet, the 8th largest city in Hungary, situated along the banks of the Danube. In total 107 cities have registered for the Games, with Tralee ICG the only Irish representatives, as they have been since 2009. “It’s a tremendous experience for these young athletes” said ICG chairman, Mike Culloty, “who get the once in a lifetime opportunity to compete at against their own peers at an International level this age (13-15). The team selected for Hungary will feature 10 athletes in Track and Field, 3 in Judo and 5 in Swimming. Swim coach Ger Mc Donnell was delighted to accept the invitation from the International Children’s Games for a group of swimmers to attend this year’s games in Hungary. Ger has previously travelled with the ICG to the Games in Thailand, Bahrain and Scotland and is looking forward to the experience in Kecskemet: “ This swimming squad are extremely hard working and driven athletes- arguably the best group that we have ever sent to the Games-This will mark the 5th time that Kerry School of Judo will have players representing the club at the Games, much to the delight of head coach Danny Roche, “Our athletes have fought and performed well at National Level and are thrilled to have the opportunity to compete in Hungary against their peers from Israel, the Ukraine and Holland, The Track team is comprised of 6 female and 4 male athletes, who will be coached by former ICG participant in 2006 and 2007, Dearbhail Foley, now coaching with Tralee Harriers. “This is our largest contingent of athletes since the Coventry Games, 2005. From here on in it’s all systems go as the necessary arrangements for travel, accommodation, fund raising and team preparation begin. “The children are all very excited at the prospect of travelling to the Games and competing in their chosen disciplines against athletes from America, Canada, England, South Korea and Thailand, to mention just a few of the 45 countries represented at the Games”.
The level of support in the local community is a critical aspect of continued participation, a point readily emphasised by Mike Culloty: “The participation of athletes from Kerry is simply not possible without the support of families, local communities and local businesses. As a voluntary organisation within the local community, we are acutely aware that without that level of support the athletes would never have this opportunity or experience this level of competition at such an early stage of their sporting lives. We are most grateful and appreciative of this support”.
The ICG team, with athletes from Tralee, Killarney, Listowel, Firies and Ballymacelligott, together with their parents and team coaches, held their first meeting on Friday night last at the Education Centre, Tralee, where details of travel arrangements, registration requirements and plans for the next four months were communicated to all present.
Athletics, Swimmers and Judo teams who will take part in the Children International Games 2020 met at IT Educate Centre with their coaches and Delgates on Friday evening Photo Joe Hanley