The smiles, the laughter, the cheers – it was so good after 18 months of Covid-19 induced inactivity, to be back in the Cambridge University Sports Centre’s main hall – basking in its size; back with student rugby players, embarking on a year when the Varsity Matches will take place in April on a Saturday; and back with our friends. Wow, it was special!

Our friends came from all quarters.  First our wonderful sponsors for the event – PEM.  PEM are the leading independent firm of accountants, tax and business advisers based in Cambridge, and were the sponsors of our first PowerHouseGames in 2018. They are great friends and completely undermine any stereotypical image of accountants – these guys are fun, caring and anything but boring!

As we had missed a year, only a few of the rugby players had experienced a PowerHouseGames before, so there was some trepidation. But the 13 men and 11 women (there was a little last minute juggling to make the 24) soon were at ease, helping the disabled students bed in to their teams and leading the touch rugby sessions.  Though they held back in the rugby, I received reports that the walking football became quite competitive!

Centre stage were the Castle School students. I take my hat off to them. These young people often do not get out much in ordinary times; add in Covid-19 and quite a number have not been out at all for 18 months. To come to a large sports complex with 60 people and the lights, it was really intimidating. They did so well, even those who joined in sporadically.  As you can see from some of the photos, they really enjoyed it.

Impington Village College and Felsted School are experienced participants though these year groups had never been before.  Maya, the teacher from Impington, was so enthusiastic she joined in and loved it.

The games are all accessible. The feedback showed the games were liked pretty equally across the board.  As this version was hosted by the University Rugby Club, we included Touch Rugby.  Alex Laybourne, our not-so-new deputy CEO, was experiencing his first PowerHouseGames over a year into his role, and as an international rugby coach, was tasked with supervising the Touch Rugby.  He demonstrated his skills by delegating the coaching to the rugby players – after all in this company they are all experts!  It was great to see them work out how to teach youngsters with limited knowledge of the game and varying abilities, and in doing so grow in confidence.  It also allowed Alex to post lots of messages on social media.  Excellent work.

I love the colours of the t-shirts – a big shout out for Silver Screen Studio – which create teams and break these youngsters away from their schools.  I love the squeals and shouts as a good shot, run, pass or stone (new age kurling is very exciting) explode.  I love the joy on the faces as everyone receives a certificate.  And I love the fact that Leila Ong, a veteran now, can still say:

“The games were fantastic last week. Boccia was my favourite station!”

And there is great news for more PowerHouseGames.  At the Cambridge University Sports Fair 15 clubs showed interest in being involved.  Some of the clubs will be grouped, so for example we will have a rackets PowerHouseGames.  Exciting times indeed, just the tonic as we come out of Covid into the new post-pandemic world.  If your school or company would like to be involved, please get in touch.

To finish we should leave it to one of the rugby players:

“Helped me see what sports can do for disabled people in bringing joy and friendships”.

Inspired? Then Get Involved!

Would your university sports team, or school love to be involved in a PowerHouseGames? Could your company support our mission by volunteering at one of our PowerHouseGames? If so, then we would love to hear from you. We are also always looking out for people willing to fundraise for Power2Inspire through their own inspiring means. Or, you could volunteer individually at one of our events, or you could give to the ongoing work of Power2Inspire. There are SO MANY WAYS we can all help to ensure “no on else is left on the bench!” Click the button here to find out more.

John Willis

CEO & Founder, Power2Inspire