Friend­ships span sports, coun­tries

Western Suburbs Weekly - - Health -

IT won’t all be about win­ning when teenage ath­letes from as far away as China and In­done­sia de­scend on Perth for a youth com­pe­ti­tion this month.

The in­ter­na­tion­als, plus con­tem­po­raries from re­gional WA and around Perth, are pre­par­ing for the Friend­ship Games – a week­long sport­ing and so­cial bo­nanza.

While the com­pet­i­tive juices will flow nat­u­rally as par­tic­i­pants take part in track and field, swimming, soc­cer, bas­ket­ball, AFL demon­stra­tion, bad­minton, volleyball and ta­ble ten­nis events, event founder An­drew Vla­hov says the Friend­ship Games of­fers a greater ex­pe­ri­ence to young peo­ple.

At­ten­dees can watch a Perth Glory clash, a Perth Wild­cats game and have an Aus­tralia Day lunch at Gov­ern­ment House and bar­be­cue din­ner at the Mounts Bay Sail­ing Club – a prime van­tage point to watch the fire­works.

“The Friend­ship Games is about be­ing part of an in­ter­na­tional event in the school holi- Friend­ship Games founder An­drew Vla­hov with par­tic­i­pants, from left, Lachie, Den­zel, Ruby, Nathan and Ethan. days,” Vla­hov said.

“It doesn't mat­ter if you don't ex­cel at the sport you love, what counts is par­tic­i­pa­tion.

“It’s also about giv­ing young peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties or from dis­ad­van­taged back­grounds a chance to par­tic­i­pate.”

Vla­hov, the for­mer Aus­tralian bas­ket­ball star, has a vi­sion for the in­ter­na­tional el­e­ment of the event to grow ex­po­nen­tially.

As part of his belief that ev­ery lo­cal high school-aged stu­dent should have an op­por­tu­nity to come along, this year’s event in­cor­po­rates a buddy fund­ing sys­tem, where es­sen­tial- ly ev­ery pay­ing par­tic­i­pant can also nom­i­nate a mate to par­tic­i­pate or do­nate a schol­ar­ship to support a child from a dis­ad­van­taged back­ground.

“This is a great op­por­tu­nity for kids to spend the last week of their school hol­i­days with a mate, par­tic­i­pat­ing in a friendly sport­ing com­pe­ti­tion and be­ing ex­posed to a host of dif­fer­ent cul­tures and op­por­tu­ni­ties,” Vla­hov said.

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