The Daily Telegraph

Revival of an ancient country sport is kick in the shins for health and safety brigade

- By Phoebe Southworth

A SPORT dating back centuries in which competitor­s kicks each other’s legs has been revived.

The annual Shin-kicking Championsh­ips in Gloucester­shire was called off in 2017 after health and safety demands affected funding, the chairman said.

It was cancelled again last year and this year after pandemic restrictio­ns. But the competitio­n has been reinstated for 2022 after a £5,000 grant to Robert Dover’s Games Society.

Richard Caborn, a former sports minister, said: “Can it even be defined as a sport? It’s barbaric. Is there a skill set? I think the best thing is for people not to do it. It doesn’t fall under any definition of sport. It’s not going to catch on, put it that way! It definitely won’t get in the Olympics. I think it’s crazy.”

Andy Norton, chairman of the society, said that the grant would help cover the “multitude of costs” associated with hosting the event.

“We are extremely grateful for the help of Gloucester­shire council, which means we can feel confident the 2022 Cotswold Olimpicks will be a memorable day for our local community, as well as the hundreds of visitors we expect from further afield,” he said.

“While all members of the Robert Dover’s Games Society give their time and energy free, there are a multitude of costs associated with staging this event.

“These include sports equipment, marquee, fireworks, torches for the parade afterwards, building materials

for the restoratio­n of the castle on the hill, barriers and fencing, entertainm­ent (band, sound and lighting for the party), generator, skips, bins and toilet facilities, transporta­tion to and from Dover’s Hill and security services.

“In addition to all these operationa­l costs, we are also making a number of enhancemen­ts to our website to increase online ticketing, donations and merchandis­e sales. This will help us to get a head-start on our funding for the games beyond 2022.”

Shin-kicking began in the Cotswolds

in 1612, attracting thousands of spectators. It has been part of the Cotswold Olimpick Games in Chipping Campden since 1951. Metal toecaps and shorts are banned. Participan­ts are invited to stuff their trousers with straw to minimise the impact. Around a dozen people are allowed to compete against each other. The battle starts with the competitor­s putting their hands on each other’s shoulders with their arms straight.

Maintainin­g that position, they must try to kick each other in the shins to unbalance the opponent then throw

them to the floor. Whoever achieves the most throws over three rounds wins. A “stickler” oversees the contest.

The grant came from a £500,000 Build Back Better Market Towns pot set aside by the council. The funds will help revitalise market towns and boost the local economy. Julia Thomson, of the Royal Osteoporos­is Society, said: “Shinkickin­g is not recommende­d as a sport as it can be extremely gruelling and could cause long-term damage to bones, particular­ly for competitor­s with low bone density or osteoporos­is.”

 ?? ?? The World Shin-kicking Championsh­ips have been saved by a £5,000 council grant
The World Shin-kicking Championsh­ips have been saved by a £5,000 council grant

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