20 years of youth sport in the Goring Gap and surrounding villages
When the Goring Gap News was launched in 1988, there were relatively few village based sporting opportunities for young people, particularly girls. The Goring Robins catered for the young footballers and there were also Tennis, Sailing and Golf activities. The Youth Club offered some sporting options as did the Cubs and Scouts. Now, the sound of young voices enjoying a wide variety of competitive sports is commonplace. So what is different now?
Changing fortunes for football, cricket and tennis clubs since 1988
Three of the larger local clubs have experienced difficult times at some point in the last twenty years and all have seen the wisdom of developing youthful talent. The Goring United Football Club has encouraged a closer relationship with the ever popular Robins who now have 10 age group teams and it is hoped that more of them will join the senior ranks.
Such is the local interest in junior football that the Streatley Recreation Ground based, and FA Registered, Streatley Strikers for primary school age children was formed in 1998. Similarly Goring Cricket Club now has a Junior Academy and their U13s won the Oxfordshire Gauntlett Cup last year. The nets on the Gardiner Recreation Ground are popular with young players during the summer. The Tennis Club also has a well organised and thriving Junior Section with 120 or more energetic members and the Youth Club, which had 50 members 20 years ago, but was short of helpers, now has a paid support worker with a sporting background and plans for the future.
Boats, golf, gymnastics, judo and dancing
Goring Gym Club, with 80 primary school aged gymnasts, has achieved GymMark and Club Mark awards in the last two years and Goring Thames Sailing Club, with 146 junior members, will benefit from a recent grant from the Oxfordshire Community Foundation, enabling them to purchase two sailing dinghies and associated safety equipment. Young newcomers to the sport are assured of a relaxed and safe introduction to the water.
Similarly, the Goring Gap Boat Club offers young people of 13 and over a warm welcome to their youth programme. The centrepiece of the club's activity is the annual Goring and Streatley Regatta, which provides river racing for all the family.
For young people who prefer the small ball game, Goring & Streatley and The Springs Golf Clubs are both keen to encourage newcomers to the sport and free taster sessions are often available.
Ballet, modern and tap dancing classes are held at Storton Lodge and for those who prefer something more competitive, Judo is also available locally.
Newer sporting opportunities
The annual Hairy Legs Duathlon Challenge starting from the Sheepcot Field, and its offspring Little Legs, has proved to be a popular junior choice. Last year 20 teenagers took part in the first 5k of the seniors race and 120 wildly enthusiastic primary school age children - Little Leggers - competed in their own obstacle events.
Most recently, a Streatley support group has been formed with a remit from the Parish Plan “to breathe life back into the Streatley Recreation Ground”. As a result a new multi-purpose cycle track has been laid with mountain bikers and joggers in mind.
When a particular sporting need was identified, the Goring and Wallingford Athletics Club was formed in Goring two years ago. Unfortunately, they had to move from the Sheepcot Field in Goring to Wallingford School as this emerging club could not afford the proposed rent. Now they have 120 young people, from 7 to 17, who enjoy fitness training and quality coaching. Some members hold county records.
Within easy reach of the Goring Gap is the Activity Dolphin Centre at Pangbourne which offers a wide range of outdoor activities including canoeing, kayaking, mountain biking, orienteering, the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme and a host of other activities aimed at personal development. The Oratory Sports Centre offers squash, real tennis, golf and swimming.
Junior hockey is catered for at Wallingford Wildcats Junior Hockey Club and, last year, three former Goring Primary schoolboys were chosen to play for South Oxfordshire via the County Hockey Development process. Rugby players need look no further than Wallingford Mini and Junior Rugby Football Club based at Hithercroft Sports Ground. Young players of all ages and all abilities are most welcome.
The state of play in 2008
Since the earliest days of the Goring Gap News there has been an explosion of sporting opportunity for young people and it is now quite difficult to find a youth sport that is not available locally.
Boxing, if that's your thing, is one. In spite of the well publicised view that too many young people are attached to their computer by an umbilical cord, competitive sport is alive and kicking. Political correctness may have dealt a death blow to egg-and-spoon racing in some primary schools, but a Saturday or Sunday morning stroll around the Goring Gap Recreation Grounds will reveal scores of keen young people noisily enjoying competitive sport - although there will always be winners and losers.
Even if you've missed an open goal yourself, it's been raining cats-and-dogs and your team has just lost 5-nil, there is a certain enduring solace about 'all being in it together'.
Courtesy of Peter W, GGN Sports Editor