Tuesday 26 September saw the long-awaited return of the ‘Better Club Games’ tournament at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park’s Copper Box Arena. This annual event for the over-60s last ran in 2019 (before Covid).
This year, 19 teams took part from Better leisure partnerships across London, the south east, Lincolnshire and Rugby competing in a diverse range of activities - darts, dominoes, short tennis, short-mat bowls, swimming, badminton, table tennis, cycling, walking netball and walking football.
In a tightly fought contest, Epsom & Ewell took the ultimate overall title – ahead of Greenwich in 2nd and Sutton in 3rd. In their second time competing at this event Team Croydon came in the top half with their first ever Top 10 finish.
Croydon’s team, made up of local residents who access the boroughs sport and leisure facilities excelled in a range of sports. Highlights included Silver medals in the timed cycle and walking netball along with a third place finish in the swimming at the Olympic pool.
GLL first decided to put on the Better Club Games back in 2006 when it realised there was no major multi-sports activity in the UK which brought older adults together annually in the spirit of fun competition.
Competitors are drawn from Active Ageing Clubs facilitated by GLL in leisure centres; the activities chime with GLL’s mission to improve health and wellbeing as a key community service through physical activity and sport.
Active ageing has since become a major public health priority with noted benefits to physical health, mental health and helping reduce social isolation in the UK’s older population. In addition, keeping active reduces the burden on the NHS.
The Better Club Games Ambassador was actress and radio presenter Vicki Michelle - of ‘Allo Allo’, EastEnders and Emmerdale fame. She added a touch of glamour and cheered on the participants.
‘Better’ is the brand name of the UK’s leading leisure charitable social enterprise GLL. The company’s ethos is to reinvest in local community health and wellbeing and the Better Club Games is a key part of this commitment.
GLL CEO Peter Bundey said: “It was great to see over 550 participants at the Copper Box Arena turn out to take part in this year’s return of the Better Club Games, compete and have fun.
“Wider society benefits in so many ways from active ageing and as a social enterprise we will continue to drive activity for this important age group.
“Congratulations to all those who took part and to our worthy winners – Epsom & Ewell.”
Grayce Joseph, who heads up the senior activity programme in Croydon said; “The atmosphere at the Copper Box Arena was really positive and upbeat. Teams looked out for each other as well as pushing their own to do well.
“I’m so proud of our Croydon team, everyone had a great day and had such a good time.
“The Better Club Games introduced some of my team to sports and activities they’d never tried before. Everyone contributed and everyone mattered.”
Since its inception in 2006, the Better Club Games has grown to become a major event that brings together over 700 competitors alongside dozens of GLL “Club” facilitators, community sports teams and volunteers over 2 days (walking football and netball were held the day before the Club Games with 150 people participating at Crystal Palace National Sports Centre).
The Better Club Games moves next to Belfast in the coming days where competitors from 16 clubs at the city’s leisure centres run by GLL, take part.
Better Club Games is organised and funded exclusively by charitable social enterprise GLL. In addition to transport and refreshments, participants enjoy raising awareness for their club, a celebrity ambassador on the day and a medal for everyone.