Sport

MOCK combat experts from across the world are taking part in European championship games in Woking this weekend.

Players from countries including the UK, France, Holland, Denmark and the US will be facing each other in the town’s Laser Quest arena.

Phill ‘Trixx’ Ellis, third left, with one of his Laser Quest teams

Staff from the company’s Woking branch are among the best on the planet and will be members of the 15 teams taking part.

Laser Quest involves players wearing vests covered with infra-red sensors as they score points by hitting opponents’ targets with laser guns, while avoiding being shot themselves. Play takes place in multi-level, maze-like arenas filled with theatrical fog and featuring strobe lights, ramps, catwalks and windows.

The championships, with teams of six, begin on Saturday morning and end with the final on Sunday afternoon. The players will be competing in friendly combat games on Friday evening.

Laser Quest area operations manager Phil Ellis, known as Trixx on the laser quest circuit, will be taking part following his completion of the London Marathon last Sunday.

“The championships are open to all players in the world, and we are all looking forward to it. The Woking arena was chosen because of its large size and layout and we are going to put on one hell of a party,” he said.

For the full story get the 2 May edition of the News & Mail

FORMER Commonwealth Games gold medallist Sam Skillcorn (née Lowe) is encouraging more youngsters to look at Judo as fitting way to improve their body and mind.

After narrowly missing out on competing at the London 2012 Summer Olympics, Sam and husband Vince set-up Fighting Fitness Judo (formerly Pyrford Judo Club) in 2015.

Coach Sam Skillcorn with students Jack and Amelia

Since opening its doors, the club’s membership has increased substantially, with over 200 judo students now practising the sport on a weekly basis.

The News & Mail caught up with Sam at The Arbor Centre in Pyrford last Saturday to get the lowdown on the club’s rise to the fore.

She said: “Vince and I always knew that we wanted to keep our hand in when we eventually retired from competing, but you’re never quite prepared for when that time comes.

“We were asked if we would like to take over the running of Pyrford Judo Club, which had been running for 30 years by Graham Hoptroff.

“It was a bit daunting at first – to run our own club: however, we haven’t looked back since as we now coach up to 650 children across three centres and at 27 different schools each term,” she added.

Students Jack and Amelia put Sam’s coaching into practice

Following the couple’s decision to retire from competitive sport six-and-a-half years ago, the success of Fighting Fitness Judo is evident for all to see.

Despite competing at the highest competition levels, though, the duo – both third dan black belts – still had to gain their level 1 and 2 coaching qualifications. 

Since then, Vince has successfully gained a masters in advanced sport coaching practice. He is one of only a handful of people in the country to hold the award.

“For us, the main purpose of doing what we do is to make Judo, fun and accessible for all. 

“There’s no point trying to force a child to love any sport if they don’t like it, but similarly if they take to it, it’s important to give them all the encouragement to excel. That’s the ethos that we promote at Fighting Fitness Judo.

“Students take part in lots of different movement skills. As a result, they develop spatial awareness, balance and greater agility. 

After just four years, Fighting Fitness Judo has become a reputable name across Woking and further afield, with more girls now actively participating in the sport.

The club’s Judo players will also be competing in the Surrey under-16s and senior closed trials on 28 April in a bid to make the Surrey county squad.

For more information on Fighting Fitness Judo, or to take up a free trial, please go www.fightingfitnessjudo.com

For the full story get the 18 April edition of the News & Mail

A CLUB for blind and visually impaired bowlers will close at the end of this year if they cannot attract new members.

The North-West Surrey Visually Impaired Bowls Group, which plays in Knaphill, is down to three members from a high of around 17.

Bowlers at the North-West Surrey Visually Impaired Bowls Group

The club needs helpers as well as players. The game is played with a length of white string running along the centre of the mat, which acts as a guide for partially sighted players and can be felt by blind ones.

A “marker” calls out the position of the jack and at least one other helper is usually on hand for blind players.

Sheila Martin, who is a “marker” and helper, said the group came very close to folding last year when there were just two players.

“One of the ladies has come back, so we have three. But we also need more volunteers. At the moment, it’s just myself and another lady, who is blind, who helps,” Sheila said.

She became involved in the group when her late husband Philip, who was virtually blind, joined about 12 years ago. Philip was a keen bowls player and served as chairman.

After Philip died seven years ago, Sheila continued helping the group, organising competitions against rival clubs and outings such as one to Arundel when the group played against sighted players.

In its heyday, the group would invite up to eight clubs to Knaphill Bowls Club, where it meets every Tuesday from 10am to noon.

“We can’t do that now,” Sheila said. “The other groups would come but we don’t have enough players or helpers to put on a competition.”

The outdoor season begins in the first week of May and runs until September. In autumn and winter, the group moves indoors to play short mat bowls.

Joining fee is £10 with annual membership of £13 and £2 a week for tea.

The group provides some bowls. Players need to have flat shoes with ridges. There is no dress code for new players, but as they become regular members, wear white shirts with grey trousers or skirts.

For more information, call Sheila on 01483 829977 or Stephanie on 01483 823575.

THE chairman of The Football Association visited the Byfleet village Club at the weekend.

Greg Clarke, right, with Paul Robinson (club chairman), middle, and Rosie Ainsworth (club secretary), left

Greg Clarke, who previously served as the chairman of The Football League and Leicester City, was given a tour of Byfleet Village’s facilities by Paul Robinson (club chairman) and rosie Ainsworth (club secretary). Clarke also watched practice sessions involving the club’s girls and under fives.

His visit was part of a whistle-stop tour of some of Surrey’s youth development clubs for boys’ and girls’ football.

Robinson said: “It’s nice to see that people at the The FA are willing to come down and see what we are doing at Byfleet Village.

“This season we got our first girls’ team off the ground, at under-11 level

A Byfleet Village player practices her footwork

“We’re also actively involved through local schools helping to promote girls’ football, where we’re currently providing training free of charge until the end of the season to try and get as many girls involved in football as possible.”

Clarke said: “Byfleet village is a wonderful club run by wonderful people.”

For the full picture feature get the 14 March edition of the News & Mail

RAIN, hail and blustering wind made running difficult, but more than 3,500 people completed the Mercer Surrey Half Marathon on Sunday.

Woking Mayoress Hannah Thompson congratulates first woman home Emma Davis, second Lesley Locks, far right, and third Lucie Custance, far left

They streamed for over three hours from Woking Park to Jacobs Well and back, in another successful staging of the largest event of its kind in the county.

Serious club runners out to set a record or a new personal best, joggers raising money for charity and children enjoying the kids’ races braved some awful weather in the day’s three events.

There was an overall total of 4,385 finishers, in the half marathon and the five and two-kilometre races.

“The runners and organisers faced some challenging conditions, especially when we were packing up,” said Hollie Light, the Surrey Half marketing manager. “But there were some excellent performances, especially from some of the teams taking part.”

Two participants – Richard Moffat and Evie Read – are waiting for confirmation that they have broken the Guinness World Record for pushing a disabled children’s buggy in a half marathon.

With Evie being pushed by Richard around the course, they took three minutes off the current world record of one hour 35 minutes.

Teenager Evie, from Headley Down, near Haslemere, has ataxia-telangiectasia (AT), a rare genetic disease. She and friend Richard, from Ascot, were raising money for the Action for A-T charity.

An innovation for entrants this year was a pre-race meditation session in Woking Leisure Centre.

“A lot of runners get anxious before a race and this helped them relax and prepare themselves in a quiet place,” said Hollie. “There were also massage and yoga sessions for runners after the race.”

For the full story and picture feature get the 14 March edition of the News & Mail

A TEAM of around 60 children, teachers and parents from Knaphill School and Knaphill Lower School are taking part in the Surrey Half Marathon on Sunday to raise money to buy defibrillators.

The organiser is Mandy Walsh, who has children in both schools, and who will taking part in her second Surrey Half Marathon.

A group of the Knaphill Schools runners who have been using the Woking Junior Parkrun on Sunday mornings at Woking Park as part of their training

Mandy said the idea came after one of the parents and a teacher went on a first aid course and decided that the schools needed to have a defibrillator.

The runners hope to raise enough money to buy two of the lifesaving devices, which can cost around £1,000 each, so that both schools can have them installed.

Many said that nearly 30 children and more than 20 adults had agreed to take part, although some had dropped out because of injury.

“For a lot of them, this will be their first half marathon. A few are running the 5K, which will be the first time they have run for anything, except for the bus,” she said.

About 15 Lower School children, aged 6 and 7 will be taking part in the 2K kids’ race.

“It’s quite a distance for them. The kids are having their own training sessions in the playground and a few of the adults are training together.”

Donations to support the runners can be made at www.justgiving.com/knaphillschools

A NEW £6 million sports hall and all-weather pitch at Gordon’s School will be available for use by residents to play sports such as badminton, basketball and indoor cricket.

The hall at the secondary school in West End will have enough space for four badminton courts, changing rooms, a café, first aid room and storage.

The new sports hall will allow the school to take part in more competitive events at all levels and will enable students to participate in a sporting activity whatever the weather

The development, which will be funded by the Gordon Foundation, was approved Environment Secretary Michael Gove last week.

Plans had been passed by Surrey Heath Borough Council and then had to go to Mr Gove because the development is above the size permitted on Green Belt Land and not in the local plan.

A spokesman for the school said the new facilities will allow its pupils to take part in more competitive events at all levels, whatever the weather.

“Students currently take part in over 22 extracurricular sporting activities,” she added. “The all-weather floodlit pitch will enable the PE programme to be expanded to include sports such as basketball, badminton and volleyball.”

Jamie Sinclair, the school’s head of house, will be taking part in the London Marathon to raise funds for the facility.

For the full story, see the 21 February edition of the News & Mail

TEN-man Westfield conjured a late equaliser at Wodson Park as they earned a point away to promotion rivals Ware.

“We weren’t at the races”: Westfield Manager Tony Reid

The Yellows manager Tony Reid had recently confirmed his sights of promotion, and while looking to surpass Marlow into third made just the one change, drafting in Louie Downey for Harry Carter.

With two strong penalty claims for Westfield rejected, as well as their woodwork being tested twice by thumping drives from Ware, it was a surprise there was only one goal separating the two sides as the match headed for full time.

Yet in the final five minutes The Yellows were awarded a penalty, captain Matt Steer striking from the spot to level the scores, before Graham Purdy was dismissed for two challenges on the home side’s keeper.

“We weren’t at the races and it’s two points dropped unfortunately,” said Reid.

For the full story get the 21 February edition of the News & Mail

THE Yellows turned on the style at Woking Park on Saturday as they swept aside Uxbridge to extend their unbeaten run to seven matches, winning 4-0.

Arsen Ujkaj lets fly to score the third of four goals against Uxbridge

Victory over their Hillingdon-based opponents saw Westfield climb to fourth place in the table.

Matt Steer, Harry Carter and George Frith returned to Westfield’s starting line-up.

After their midweek draw at Chalfont St Peter stopped The Yellows’ five-match winning streak in its tracks, the hosts looked to get back to winning ways.

After the match, Westfield boss Tony Reid said: “From the off we controlled everything. It was an all-round great  performance.” 

For the full match report, get the Thursday 14 February edition of the News & Mail