Saturday, 15 August 2009

History of the 'Friendly Games'

The concept of a united Commonwealth sporting event was coined during rebirth of the Olympic Games, and was first formally propagated by Reverend Astley Cooper in The Times newspaper in 1891.

In 1911, the 'Festival of Empire' was held in London to celebrate the coronation of King George V. As part of the festivities, an Inter-Empire Championships was held in which teams from Commonwealth Nations including Australia, Canada, South Africa and the United Kingdom competed in events such as boxing, wrestling, swimming and athletics. A trophy in the form of a silver cup, 2ft 6in high and weighing 340oz, the gift of Lord Lonsdale, was presented to the winning country, which was Canada.

The first practical steps were taken to organise the British Empire Games in 1928 Olympic Games in Amsterdam. Mr M. M. (Bobby) Robinson of Canada called a meeting of representatives of all Empire countries, and made the proposal that the British Empire Games should be held. The first British Empire (Commonwealth) Games were held in 1930 in Hamilton, Canada where 11 countries took part. In total 400 athletes represented their respective countries in 6 sports and 59 events.

The Games have been conducted every four years except for 1942 and 1946 when they were disrupted due to World War II. Since its inception the event has seen many changes, not least in its name. The name, British Empire Games, was changed in 1950 to British Empire and Commonwealth Games. In 1966, it was changed to British Commonwealth Games. It was the 1978 Games in Edmonton that saw this unique, world class, multi-sports event change its name to the Commonwealth Games.

Often referred to as the ‘Friendly Games’ only single competition sports had been on the programme from 1930 up to and including the 1994 Games in Victoria.

The 1998 Games in Kuala Lumpur saw the introduction of team sports with nations taking part in cricket (50 over game), hockey (men and women), netball (women) and rugby 7's (men).

In Manchester in 2002 hockey, netball and rugby 7's were part of the programme again and at the 2006 Games in Melbourne basketball was added to the list of team sports.

Hockey, netball and rugby 7’s will again feature in XIX edition of the games at Delhi in 2010.

Click here to read more about Commonwealth Nations.


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