We are officially Fit4Work
Each year Active Norfolk host an event at the UEA Sportspark called the Fit4Work Corporate Games. This full-day sporting event is open to businesses and organisations across Norfolk. The event has been running since 2009.
In 2017 the Argents team made their debut in a bid for sporting glory.
As the Argents team arrived at the UEA to register and begin preparations, there was a feeling that we could beat the odds and finish relatively high in the medal table, despite strong competition from the likes of Aviva and other sizeable corporations.
Over the course of the day, 44 teams would be participating in 10 events in a bid to be immortalised in sporting history – could Argents pull off a Leicester and come out on top at 5000-1?
For each event we had to select a team of 5, but our overall squad for the day was as follows; Callum, Louisa, Liam, Ulanda, Abbi, Glen, Fiona, Stewart, Jane and Grahame.
Event 1 Wheelchair Basketball
Our first event saw us step into the unknown, playing wheelchair basketball against last year’s Fit4Work Corporate Games champions, Crown Commercial Service. The Argents team of Glen, Stewart, Fiona, Louisa and Callum took to the court, and it wasn’t long before we had to wait for a moment of controversy…. Glen wheeled himself forward for the jump start, however when contesting for the ball his opposing number fell out his chair. It was ruled that Glen hadn’t pushed him, so after a quick dust-down we were free to continue the match.
Despite this being Argents' first year in the competition, a neutral spectator would not have guessed that we were the ‘newbies’ of the competition. Some slick passing and great interchange-play saw Argents have the majority of the possession and better chances – but with this being the first game of the day and neither team yet to find their ‘flow’, the score stayed at 0-0 for most of the 10-minute game.
Argents continued to have more joy with the ball, but disaster struck late on. A loose ball was grabbed by an Argents player and Crown Commercial player at the same time - the referee indicated that he would be awarding a drop ball, but in a moment of confusion the Crown Commercial player took the opportunity to play a long ball upfield to where one of her teammates was waiting. Unchallenged, he composed himself to score a basket and put his side ahead with 9 seconds remaining. Heartbreak for Argents!!
Argents tried their best to get the ball upfield to equalise, however the final whistle was blown and we had an early taste of defeat.
It was a bitter pill to swallow after Argents had had the better chances and more possession, however we felt buoyed by such a strong performance and moved onto our next event.
Event 2 - Archery
This was an event which Stewart was feeling particularly confident about. Argents had had Archery success in the past, when competing at another of Active Norfolk’s events, the “It’s a Knockout Adventure” competition at Whitlingham – where we have come runner-up and first in recent years.
Argents’ archers for this event were Grahame, Jane, Ulanda, Glen and Stewart.
This event saw 4 teams take part in a sports hall, each with their own target to aim at. After receiving a safety briefing and having a few practice arrows, we stepped up and fired our arrows. It was a mixed bag of arrows, ranging from a few bullseyes to a few stray arrows (don’t worry – no spectators were harmed). We felt that we did okay, but two of the other targets in the room looked as if they’d been peppered by Robin Hood – so maybe this wasn’t going to be our year…..
The day was still young though, and we knew that a few strong performances could put our day back on track to glory!!
Event 3 - Back to school games
After being indoors for the opening two events, we had the opportunity to ‘unleash’ our potential outside in the ‘Back to School Games’ event. This was one of the ‘fun’ events of the day; a relay between 5 team members consisting of:
- Sack race
- Egg & spoon race
- Bean-bag throwing
- Space-hopper bouncing
- Sprint to finish
Argents fielded a strong team for this one, with the relay runners consisting of Liam, Fiona, Abbi, Callum and Stewart. This event saw us racing against three other teams.
Liam ran the opening leg, which was pretty tight between all 4 teams – it was apparent from watching that the race could end up being pretty close, with the beanbag throwing challenge being the decider (a player could not move on from this obstacle until they had thrown all three beanbags into a target area, which wasn’t as easy as it sounded). Liam tagged Fiona in to run the second leg, and she would then run the circuit in reverse. Again, the beanbag challenge seemed to halt most of the teams for a while but as time went on the race opened up.
Fiona came to her last obstacle - the sack race - before tagging Abbi in. As Fiona was getting towards the end, she landed awkwardly in her sack and twisted her ankle. Mere mortals would have crumpled at this point, but like the true warrior that she is, Fiona composed herself and hauled her body over the line to tag Abbi in for the third leg.
A confident leg from Abbi meant that Callum could then be released onto the track. Again, Callum handled the pressure of the fourth leg well and handed the proverbial baton to Stewart for the final leg. At this point we could have finished anywhere between 1st and 4th, but an incident free run saw us cross the line in second with a respectable time of 8 minutes.
We later learned that this time would have won the race by a clear minute in some of the other groups, so we were happy with the overall performance, and very much looking forward to the next activity – golf.
Event 4 - Golf
We had high hopes for this event as we had our very own office Rory McIlroy in Grahame, and both Liam and Glen had had recent golfing practice.
Ulanda and Louisa completed what was a very strong Argents line up, although Ulanda did refer to her equipment as a ‘golf bat’.
The Argents players numbered themselves 1 to 5, and then each had to go off and play a short round of golf with their corresponding numbered opponents from other teams. The ‘holes’ had been put together by the Active Norfolk staff on some of the football pitches, with various coloured cones representing bunkers, water hazards and greens etc.
The participants were originally going to partake in 6 holes, but time restrictions meant that they would only be able to play 3 – much to the disappointment of the fans. The three holes seemed to be over in a flash, with all 5 players posting respectable scores – particularly Grahame who went round in 7.
Also, a special mention should be given to Louisa, who went round the course with an impressive score, even though she wasn’t overly keen on doing this event!!
Could this be the start of the comeback?
After golf we were given a break to have lunch a take part in a few ‘extras’ which had been laid out for the day.
One of the extras was a ‘smoothie-bike’ whereby two riders could sit side-by-side on exercise bikes which powered blenders to make natural smoothies. A few of the Argents team members had a ride on the smoothie bike, with Fiona and Ulanda particularly enjoying theirs.
As well as this, a few of us also had our blood pressure checked by the volunteers from the Stroke charity (you’ll be happy to know that there were no major concerns), and took part in the 100m dash challenge.
Before we knew it, lunch was over and we were back in business!
Event 5 - Tennis
The strong golfing performance was just what we needed to get the day back on track, and we went into our next event, Team Tennis, with high hopes. This was ‘Killer Tennis’ which was a 5-on-5 elimination match. If you lose a point you lose a player, and if you win a point you can bring a player back on…… A bit like dodgeball with rackets, a net and a smaller ball! Once all players had been eliminated the winning team scored a point, and the match was best of 3 points.
Grahame, Jane, Stewart, Ulanda and Callum took to the court. We had a bit of a warm up, but then the heavens opened to disrupt play. After a rain delay, we were free to resume play – but the disruption seemed to knock Argents out of their groove. A relatively even opening game saw us go 1-0 down, but you know what they say about great teams……. It’s about how you bounce back that matters!
Argents cruised the next game with some nice shots from Ulanda, Grahame, Callum and Jane and an impressive smash from Stewart to tie the game at 1-1.
Argents had found their groove and momentum, and demolished the opposition with a whitewash performance in the deciding game, culminating in a delicate drop shot from Stewart that Tim Henman in his heyday would have been proud of.
The Wolves of Palace Street were starting to howl and a strong finish to the day was within their sights!!!
Event 6 - Cornhole
Like Wheelchair Basketball, the next event was a step into the unknown with ‘Cornhole’.
This event saw Glen, Jane, Louisa, Abbi and Liam step up to see if they had the skills to pay the bills – which they did!!
Cornholing is a game played 1-on-1 in which players take turns throwing bags of corn (or bean bags) at a raised platform with a hole in the far end. A bag in the hole scores 3 points, while one on the platform scores 1 point. A bag which misses the platform scores nothing.
Each player had 4 beanbags and the aim was to outscore your opponent.
Glen stepped up first and you could see why confidence was so high. He brushed aside his opponent with ease, giving us a 1-0 lead – and in the process scored a fair few ‘holes’.
Jane was next. A 1-0 lead is always a nervy position to be in; a loss would squander a lead, and a win would put us within touching distance of victory! However, Jane showed no signs of nerves and looked like she knew how to handle corn. Watching Jane throw corn towards a target was like watching ‘Deadshot’ from the Suicide Squad films – she couldn’t miss! A scintillating performance put Argents 2-0 up, and some of the opposing team even referred to Jane as the ‘Cornhole Champion’!!
Louisa stepped up knowing that she could grab the win that Argents deserved. As a spectator, this was the nerviest game of all, and her opponent had some incredible shots up his sleeves. As this game progressed Louisa upped her game with every throw and eventually ground her opponent down – getting the win and putting Argents into an unassailable 3-0 lead. The crowd were on their feet and both Abbi and Liam knew that they could go into their respective matches with the pressure off.
Abbi was the next Argents gladiator to take to the cornhole colosseum (UEA squash court) to do battle with her opponent. Again, she didn’t disappoint and pulled off some amazing shots, but in this instance luck wasn’t on her side and she narrowly lost her match – with her head held high though!
By this point Liam was chomping at the bit to get started, so he was relieved to finally get his chance to take to the field (although he admitted he was glad that the pressure was off!). Liam cruised past his opponent with some clever shots, and even had his opponent throwing his beanbags in frustration.
The contest finished 4-1, with Argents’ performance fast becoming a talking point among those lucky enough to witness the display.
Event 7 - Cycling
Originally not too many were keen on taking part in cycling.
This event was split into three stages:
Each participant had to select a bike without pedals, and sprint the short course in the fastest time – maintaining contact with the seat.
We then had to select a bike with pedals, and make our way down a course in the slowest time – without our feet touching the floor.
Finally we had to take part in a relay race round a short course, which consisted of a slalom, ramps, a bar to duck under, balance and speed. Fastest time to go around the course would win!
Like many of the other events, we were taking part in this course along with other teams.
The Argents team of Stewart, Glen, Callum, Louisa and Fiona stepped up for the first ‘sprint’ – we were given our starting orders and everybody flew down the track. The judges would take the fastest and slowest times to take an average, so the fact that all of the Argents team flew down the course was only good for our points tally.
With no time to think, we changed bikes and wheeled up to the starting line for stage 2. We were a bit unsure of how this stage would go down, but credit to each member, everybody’s balance was great and we made it down the course in a slow time overall. By this point, the cycling experts on hand were impressed with our performance so far – as many other teams had either fallen or gone too quick/slow.
Heading into the last stage, we were feeling pretty good. The relay race was on a single bike, so as well as being well-drilled and fast, changeovers at the end of each leg were key. Despite some tired legs starting to kick in after what was becoming a tiring day, Argents posted an impressive time and again, the organisers were impressed.
All the more impressive was that Fiona powered through despite injuring her ankle earlier on.
We only had three events left, and with our performances getting stronger and stronger as the day went on – we were feeling confident of a respectful finish overall.
It was time for another break, and our chance to make a few more smoothies on the smoothie bike. Callum, Glen, Liam and Grahame all had smoothies – Liam liking his so much that he spilt most of it down his shirt – which has now earned him the affectionate title of ‘Captain Spillage’.
During our first break we took part in the 100m dash challenge, filling the lanes and having a race between ourselves. It was apparent that we would not be challenging the fastest times overall for the day, so this was for a bit of fun/pride.
As we had a lot of time to kill on our second break, Glen, Callum and Stewart took to the track again to see if original times could be bettered (and to see who was the quickest in the office). Who would prevail?
- Would it be the youthfulness and agility of Callum?
- The age and experience of Stewart?
- Or the power and athleticism of Glen?
If you were a betting man/woman, who would you put your money on……..?
For now, the result can stay between ourselves in the office.
Event 8 - Table Tennis
Next up, we had table tennis. This was being played as a team event, with one player from each team taking on another for a point. The losing player went to the back of the queue with the next player stepping forward – the winning player would stay on, but could only remain in-play for a maximum of three points.
Two games were to be played at the same time, with the winners taking on each other to decide 1st and 2nd, and losers battling it out for 3rd and 4th.
It was first to 21, and as it was only one game, tensions were high!
Grahame, Stewart, Ulanda, Abbi and Liam made up the Argents side for this event – but it was apparent from looking around the room that there were some seasoned pros on some of the opposing teams.
The game got underway with a classy serve from Grahame, and the scores remained quite even until both teams reached double figures. A combination of nerves and an inability to get a rhythm going meant that this event turned out to be quite difficult, but the first ‘three-point-run’ of the match from Stewart saw Argents pull away. Liam, Abbi, Ulanda and Grahame then smelt blood and saw out the game quite comfortably in the end – on to the final!
We knew we were going to be up against it in the final when we saw that our opposition had their own table tennis bats (despite the rules clearly stating that these were not allowed!). Despite a valiant effort, which included some great points from Abbi, Ulanda and Liam – plus an audacious smash from Grahame, our opponents ran out winners and we were left with second place. All in all, a great performance.
The highlight of this match was probably when one of the opposition stated that Abbi ‘had got inside his head’, though none of us can really figure out why!
Event 9 - Kwick Cricket
Kwik Cricket was the next event in which Argents would do battle, and our cricketers for this one would be Grahame, Callum, Glen, Jane, Ulanda and Fiona.
This was an unusual event as it was to be played indoors in a fairly enclosed space, with the following rules:
- Each team starts on 100 runs.
- Everybody bowls for one over (so there would be 6 overs).
- If you’re a batter and you connect with the ball, you must run.
- If you get out your team loses 5 runs (so everybody gets a fair turn at batting).
- If you smash the ball against the back wall you score 4 or 6.
- If you hit the side wall you score 2.
Argents were put into bat first, with Grahame opening. Grahame looked quite at home at the crease, with some shots which Brian Lara would have been proud of in his prime. Fiona ably assisted Grahame in the opening two overs, and Argents were romping ahead with a nice selection of 6s, 4s and quick singles.
Ulanda and Glen then stepped up for overs three and four and it didn’t take them long to find their rhythm. A few more big shots and clever runs saw Argents creep ahead even more. The Active Norfolk photographer captured a great photo of Ulanda bowling – maybe this could be a new hobby?
Jane and Callum took to the crease for the last few overs, but were a bit unfortunate to come up against a genuinely skilled bowler, but the scoreboard ticked over nicely and Argents posted a healthy score.
Our opposition were put into bat, but couldn’t handle a variety of bowling from Argents – particularly from Fiona who looked as natural with the cricket ball as a young Beefy Botham.
The big talking points however, were in respect of Argents’ fielding. Despite playing on an indoor hardcourt surface, Glen made an acrobatic dive to catch a ball which wasn’t actually anywhere near him. He somehow managed to maintain his grasp on the ball, while clattering into the wall and floor simultaneously! Had someone managed to video this catch, I’m certain it would have made the DVD of Top Sporting Moments of 2017’. Amazing stuff!
Not to be outdone, Grahame saw his chance to show off some acrobatics of his own. A looping ball was lofted high in his direction, and like a salmon leaping to escape the jaws of a hungry grizzly bear, he seized the moment…
Grahame hit the deck with some considerable force, and the venue fell deadly silent while we waited to see if he would arise unscathed……. To our relief, Grahame picked himself up and resumed play – and prevented a 6 in the process.
Argents saw out the game and came out on top – winning with a margin of about 50 runs (not bad for 6 overs!)
Event 10 - Gymnastics
To see out the day, the final event was gymnastics. Similarly to earlier events, this was broken down into stages:
A relay over what appeared to be a ‘soft-play’ obstacle course. This was a race to see which team could post the fastest time while navigating a course and sprinting back again. This event finished with a short space hopper dash, which had been problematic earlier on for some in the 'Back to School Games' event.
The Argents team of Louisa, Abbi, Callum, Fiona and Glen took to the course one by one and looked to breeze through it – with the only slip-up being Glen almost falling off a beam. He maintained his composure though, and Argents were powering towards a good finish to the day.
Another relay race – this time using the high rings to swing into a foam pit, before clambering round a soft course and out of the ‘pool’ to tag the next person. Again, Argents looked at home completing the course. There was a moment of worry when little Fiona disappeared in the foam, but she bobbed back up and comfortably completed the course – as did everyone else.
The day so far and previous two stages would have sapped the energy out of most people, but Louisa, Abbi, Callum, Fiona and Glen knew that they had one more stage to complete – and somehow found the energy to power through. This event was a bit like a circuit training exercise: Each person had to hop-skip-and-jump forward then run back to the start and repeat as many times as they could in 45 seconds – which was tiring just to watch!!!
A fantastic performance came to a close, as did the day’s sporting events.
Everybody had given as much as they could, so it was just a case of heading back to the main hall along with all of the other teams to find out where we finished out of 44 teams…. In the end, we finished 10th, which I think we can be extremely proud of.
Reflecting on the day we’d had, Grahame said ‘I had forgotten how much I enjoyed team sport - unfortunately so had my body! – but a very enjoyable day nevertheless’
Roll on next year!!!