HUNDREDS of North-East youngsters were united in the true spirit of grassroots sport last week.

They showed their paces in the Wear Valley Schools' Commonwealth Games Festival of Sport at Maiden Castle in Durham.

The colourful event was organised as part of the School Sport Co-ordinator Initiative within the Wear Valley Sport Action Zone.

Event organiser Alan Duff, partnership development manager for Wear Valley School Sport Co-ordinator Programme, said: "A major theme was the encouragement of grass roots opportunities for sports participation in a spirit of friendship and fair play that echoes the spirit of the 17th Commonwealth Games."

The event was a culmination of a lot of development work over the past few months.

The children received coaching and training sessions from visiting school sport co-ordinators and coaches.

Community sports leader students from Wolsingham, Parkside, King James, St John's and Barrington schools have all been involved as judges and officials and all the young people who took part competed in the name of their adopted countries and each school made the flag of the Commonwealth country it represented.

The flags were displayed by each school at the march past and opening ceremony and the children were supported in the production of their flags by visits to schools from ScrapBank, a community arts development group based at Crook.

Mr Duff said: "We are very grateful to the Sport Action Zone for the sponsorship support which has been given to the event and also to Durham County Council and Northern Electric for their contributions of grant aid for the Games.

"We must also thank the University sports centre director and staff for the use of their facilities, and to Scoarest for providing the packed lunches for the 1,000 competitors. It has been a real partnership effort."