Unsung Sports: Leeds arts project celebrates 'vital' groups involved in aikido, petanque and women's basketball
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It is led by writer and musician Peter Spafford and the project uses poetry, music, film and photography to celebrate the achievements of local sporting groups and the people who participate.
Peter said: “I’m always heartened and cheered by the commitment and passion of ordinary people to keep these clubs running.
“They are totally selfless in their devotion to involving young people, attracting new players and reducing social isolation. It’s very moving and they play a vital part in our society.
“People play for the love of it and develop tremendous bonds. There are participants who say that they would ‘walk through walls’ for their fellow players, which shows the strength of feeling they have for each other.”
This is the second phase of the Unsung Project project and will be highlighting a number of city-wide groups involved in aikido, petanque and women’s basketball.
Aikido, a modern Japanese martial art which combines aikijutsu and jiu jitsu, has largely taken off in Leeds thanks to Bob Jones who founded martial arts club Ichiban Leeds, on Meanwood Road. He now regularly sends participants to Japan to compete at international level.
Bob said: “Aikido gives people confidence and a strong sense of achievement. It also provides friendship groups and a helps you to develop a positive attitude. We teach our younger members that if you are nice to people, then nice things happen!”
Leeds Petanque Club, based in Kirkstall, is a popular sport among the older people in the city and will also be showcased in the Unsung Project.
Paul Matthews, chair of Leeds Petanque Club, said: “It’s quite a slow game with a lot of standing around and watching, so people get the chance to have a chat. Some of our members attend matches and tournaments which go on all day so there’s plenty of time for socialising.”
It was set up by Clara De Sousa Diane who arrived in Leeds from Portugal feeling very isolated and decided to try and start a new social group, having played basketball at High School in Lisbon. South Leeds Valkyries now has around 60 members.
Other ‘unsung sports’ will also be featured at the event, which are free but tickets must be booked in advance via the website.