Hoops are delighted to be partnering with GoFest, as they bring their super inclusive events to Manchester and Surrey this summer. We could tell you about how fantastic their festivals are, but instead we chatted with GoFest founder Paul Farris to find out what is special about it from his perspective.
Football. Rugby. Cricket. Swimming. Gymnastics. Korfball. Music. Food. Family.
Sound like an eclectic mix? Well that’s all in a day’s entertainment at GoFest, the festival aimed at introducing people to sport.
Since making its debut in 2015, the festival has grown swiftly, and will be introducing a second site in Manchester in 2017, alongside the original site in Guildford, Surrey.
And with Hoops delighted to be joining as a GoFest sponsor, we met up with founder Paul Farris to find out what motivated him to start the festival, and where he plans on taking it in the future.
“There is a big need to get people active across the UK, because we have a big problem with obesity, and inactivity generally,” he said.
“We want people to be excited for the opportunity to have a go at such a vast array of different sports and healthy activities in one location over one weekend.
“That’s what it’s all about. Ultimately, we’re trying to get to get thousands of people into something new that they perhaps haven’t seen before, or maybe haven’t even heard of before.
“We want to offer the biggest range of sport you can imagine in one location.”
“Unfortunately, kids’ lifestyles are mostly sedentary”
— GoFest (@gofestuk) February 9, 2017
With 40 to 50 different sports and fitness activities at each location, it’s fair to say that Farris is fulfilling that wish.
But there’s no chance of him becoming complacent. Far from it, Farris knows all too well the challenges facing his crusade to get children active.
“Unfortunately these days there are a whole multitude of different entertainment pastimes, so kids’ lifestyles are mostly sedentary,” he said.
“There’s probably less natural onus on getting kids active and getting them outside. But from a camaraderie and confidence building aspect as well, you learn lessons on football pitches and rugby pitches that you wouldn’t elsewhere.
“We’ve had some great stories of kids and even adults finding something new, realising that they’re actually pretty good at it and then carrying it on after the festival.”
Of course, the battle for the hearts and minds of children isn’t as simple as introducing them to a sport and watching them blossom. There’s always a third party to win over as well.
But Farris believes that GoFest solves many of the problems that parents or carers may face when it comes to involving their young charges in physical activity.
“It’s difficult, I’m a parent myself, and it’s tough at times,” he said.
“But there’s nothing more important than educating your kids and making sure they’re physically active and healthy.
“There’s often a cost element behind it, but we’re trying to impress upon people that there are activities out there that really don’t cost very much, people just have to be aware of what’s possible.
“Hopefully we’re giving people a helping hand to see how they can get their kids into new sports.”
“You’re never too old to find opportunities”
We're going to be sponsoring @gofestuk this summer!
— Hoops Connect (@Hoops_App) March 10, 2017
But this obvious objective of getting more children active, GoFest is far from being solely for kids.
Farris cited his “burning passion” for sport as one of the contributing factors behind his decision to start the festival, and he wants to infuse that passion in as many people as possible, regardless of age.
“You’re definitely never too old to find opportunities – we’re trying to create something that is just as relevant to 75-year-olds as it is to 5-year-olds,” he said.
“We have a lot of people who come down who don’t have kids, they’re just interested to try new sports and fitness activities.
“Just come down, put your name down and give it a go. There’s a huge amount of choice and you’re sure to find something that you enjoy.
“Where else are you going to get the opportunity to try 40-50 new activities over one weekend all in the same location?
“I would say that it is a fantastic opportunity to have a go at almost anything you can think of – bar motor racing and horse riding! It’s an unrivalled opportunity.”
It would seem that people agree, as GoFest’s popularity is building, with the introduction of Manchester festival coinciding with a raft of new sponsors and partnerships.
If 2017 continues that trend of success, Farris is targeting further expansion around the country – so keep your eyes peeled for a GoFest near you.
“The feedback we have received has been immense, so encouraging,” he said.
“We had so many emails and letters, with people saying stuff such as ‘it’s like going to the Olympics but being able to have a go at the events yourself’.
“It’s very exciting and very rewarding, and I’m not afraid to say we are pretty proud as well.”
Hoops is now available in app stores, so you can use us to find opportunities for any sport or fitness activity you can think of. Simply click here to download the app for Android, and here for iOS – or search for Hoops Connect.
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