Celebrating Physical Activity for Older People at the 5th Annual Go for Life Games

The 5th Annual Go for Life Games was held in DCU Sports Centre on Saturday 11th June. This year’s event builds on the success of previous games, also held in DCU, and over the next few years Age & Opportunity plans to grow the games into one of Ireland’s largest amateur multi-sports events.

The aim of the Go for Life Games is to involve older people in recreational sport. Now in its fifth year, the Games is one of the biggest leisure sport events for older people in Ireland. Run by Age & Opportunity with support from Sport Ireland, the 2016 Games brought together over 300 players from across Ireland, its largest gathering yet.

All of the teams, made up from Active Retirement groups, social clubs, Men’s Sheds, sports clubs and friendship groups, have been supported by their Local Sports Partnerships. They have been practicing, competing and coming through heats in their counties in order to compete in the finals.  

DCU certainly lived up to its Age Friendly University billing on the day.  On Friday night older people from all over the country came to stay in the residences, and Sports Centre staff were on hand late Friday night and early Saturday morning to set up the two sports halls to accommodate 300 participants.

There is nothing to make a good day better like a top dinner – especially when you don’t have to do the dishes!  As usual Louise and her staff in the Canteen pulled out all the stops and everyone was full of praise for the catering on the day.  DCU President Brian Mac Craith always makes a point of dropping in on the day and chatting to participants. 

The games themselves are devised specifically for Go for Life. These games, with clear rules and scoring systems, can be played and practiced by everyone, no matter what level of sporting ability. They are great for developing balance, flexibility and concentration.

Mary Harkin, Sport & Physical Activity Manager with Age & Opportunity was full of praise for the contestants: “It’s at events like this that you can see how ‘getting older’ has changed in Ireland. People are getting more active as they age, are interested in their health and are more than happy to try something new. Every year, the laughter, banter and social interaction that the Games generates just keeps getting bigger and bigger. It is the mix of regular activity, socialising and a little competition that makes the Games such a success. Go for Life is keeping people happier and healthier as they age and that’s good news for everyone.”

The Spirit of the Games awards go to teams or individuals who encourage a spirit of fair play and solidarity during the final. Caroline, one of the recipients of a special award on the day, had this to say: “We had great fun, we really did. We were getting on great with the people playing against us. We weren’t really even thinking of points at all, just more the fun aspect of it”. And when asked if they’d be back to fight another day: “I feel wrecked now, I have to say, but hopefully we’ll be back.”

Age & Opportunity is the national organisation that works to inspire and to create opportunities so that Irish people can live healthy and fulfilling lives as they age. One of the ways they do this is through Go for Life, the national programme for sport and physical activity for older people. Over fifteen years, it has helped more older people to be more active, more often.  40,000 people take part in Go for Life activities annually.

To find out more about Age & Opportunity and the Go for Life Programme contact us on 01 805 7733, or visit www.ageandopportunity.ie.

Editors Notes:

Attached are photos by Tommy Clancy.