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Sport and Recreation Minister Clayton Cosgrove has welcomed the young athletes who will be battling it out this weekend at the South Island Independence Games, during his speech to officially open the Games in Christchurch this morning (19 April 2008).
The Games are an annual sports event for young disabled people aged from eight to 17 years. The event is being held at Christchurch’s QII Stadium over this weekend where more than 100 young people from eight South Island regions will be competing in events such as swimming, boccia and track and field.
At the opening ceremony Clayton Cosgrove thanked CCS Disability Action for its continued support in organising the Games over their 18 year history. He also acknowledged the work of other volunteers.
“An enormous amount of work and planning has gone into preparing for these Games. I know the athletes have been training hard – with support from their clubs, coaches and teams, as well as all the other volunteers including mums, dads, teachers and supporters. It is that fantastic all round effort that makes important events like this possible.”
The Games seek to encourage and support participation in mainstream sporting activities and enable participants to compete against others of a similar ability.
Mr Cosgrove told the young athletes that they were all part of a great sporting nation. “You have all worked hard to get here today, and I am sure some of you will go on to represent New Zealand in a Paralympics team.”
Christchurch was also acknowledged by Mr Cosgrove for its initiative in running events for disabled sportspeople. “Christchurch has shown great enterprise and enthusiasm when it comes to hosting disabled games, the most recent being the 2006 World Wheelchair Rugby Championships and the upcoming the IPC (International Paralympics Committee) World Athletics Championships in 2011,” said Mr Cosgrove.
The Independence Games is an annual sporting event organised by CCS Disability Action and sponsored by Mainland, NZCT, Foodstuffs Community Trust, New World Bishopdale, the government agency Sport and Recreation New Zealand (SPARC), Parafed Canterbury, IAG New Zealand and Kiwanis.