By Peter Stevenson
SOME of Cyprus’ best young athletes will be pitted against English Cypriot and other athletes from London’s Enfield and Haringey Athletics Club (EHAC) in the first event of its type to take place in Cyprus next April.
The large Cypriot community in this area of London is well represented in the EHAC and the competition will be a “fantastic opportunity” to build and develop a relationship that could benefit both sides according to the director of the Cyprus Amateur Athletics Association (CAAA), Antonis Georgallides.
There is even talk that some of the English Cypriot EHAC members could represent Cyprus in international events in the future.
“It’s a great chance to see what level their athletes are, especially their Cypriot athletes, and we have also been offered the chance to send our athletes to England for pre-season training” he said.
The event will not cost much and is relatively easy to organise so nothing should stand in the way, Georgallides added. A delegation from England will come later this month to see the facilities and discuss what events will take place.
With EHAC being crowned the UK track and field national champions for the under-13 and under-15 age groups in July, the competition promises to be particularly challenging.
Jimmy Andreou is the father of one of the Cypriot athletes that compete with the EHAC and a driving force behind the event. He told the Sunday Mail that the Cypriot contingent of the London club had a vision of travelling out to the island as the national champions to compete with the “best of the best” that Cyprus has to offer.
“The club embraced this idea passionately but many obstacles were thrown in our way. The more serious one was bringing athletes who came from families with financial struggles,” he said.
The event will support the Archangel Michael Hospice, a charity in Paphos in the final stages of commissioning, which will help people, including children, suffering from life limiting illnesses.
The Hospice has secured part funding for its facility from the Sideras Foundation and local companies and businesses, but to meet the annual running cost of €500,000 it needs to attract further funding and charitable giving.
Once the event is officially announced, Andreou said he believes more funding will come from Cypriot businessmen in London.
Athletics coach Andy Ioannou has also been a major force behind the event.
A coach in both England and Cyprus since 1999, he sees the planned competition as an opportunity to see whether any of the Cypriot contingent from EHAC could possibly represent Cyprus in the future.
“Cyprus has organised various events in the past with Greece but it’s the first time that such an event is being organised with England,” he said.
Ioannou added that it could lead to further cooperation including sending Cypriot athletes to England.