Friendships span sports, countries
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.