by Chrysa Papamichail: 1st-year proficiency student at The Hydra Language School.
Assisted by: Sotiris Iliadis (teacher)
SPORTS IN HYDRA (article in progress)
Hydra is a small island in Greece, in the Saronic Gulf. Its population is about 2.000 people. Sports here play an important role in people’s lives although there are many difficulties, mainly due to the lack of infrastructure and adequate sports facilities. Recently, however, the island has seen a remarkable surge of interest in sport, mostly as a result of the very successfully organized Hydra’s Trail Event and some additional athletic opportunities for children.
Hydra’s Public High School doesn’t offer impressive sports facilities like stadiums and swimming pools that can be found in some private schools abroad, but it is probably above average compared to most Greek public schools in urban centers. There’s a small indoor gym and an outdoor basketball court, which is also used for football, volleyball and PE training (3 times a week). The school is also equipped with balls, a volleyball net, gym mats etc. so kids can play volleyball, basketball, or football games after the warm –up (running and exercises). In every lesson children learn new moves and tips about volleyball or basketball and then have a friendly game.
ATHLETIC OPPORTUNITIES OUTSIDE SCHOOL
With special permission from the municipality, the old Sachtourio High School houses several additional athletic activities for the children of Hydra.
- Dance lessons.
Classical ballet and contemporary dance lessons are offered on a regular basis, by the dance instructor Lina Orologa, in one of the old classrooms, which has been especially converted for this purpose. Students pay 25 euros per month and they also pay for their costumes, shoes, clothing etc. Classes are separated according to experience and age:
- Intermediate (ages 7-9)
- Upper-Intermediate (ages 10-12)
- Advanced (ages 13-17)
At the end of the school year, during the Miaoulia Festivities there is a public performance in the port with an original theme where every class presents one or more pieces of choreography.
- Karate lessons
Karate lessons also take place in the Sachtourio school classroom. The karate school is named “THE PUNCH OF HYDRA” (Η Γροθιά της Ύδρας). Classes by instructor John Prapas in Wado Ryu (Kata and Kumite) are offered to kids as well as adults. Students pay for their uniforms and the lessons cost 25 euros per month (for brothers or sisters it is 40 euros instead of 50.) Most classes are 3 hours per week and loud music is played to inspire the energy and intensity needed. Classes are separated according to age, regardless of experience or belt color. Students take exams for belts every 6 months. Instructor John Prapas believes strongly in teaching respect and self-discipline, emphasizes self-defense and discourages aggressive behavior. The young students of The Punch of Hydra have taken part in several Karate competitions both in Greece and abroad with remarkable results. Jason Diamadis came 3rd worldwide and Aggelos Plevritis came 1st at Karate games in Denmark in 2015. At the end of the year, during the Miaoulia festivities the Punch of Hydra presents an impressive public demonstration in the port for kids to have an opportunity to show their skills.
- Kick Boxing lessons.
Kick Boxing lessons are also offered in the old Sachtourio school, but in another classroom by instructor George Kiouranis. Both children and adults can attend kick boxing lessons, but mostly grown-ups, because it’s a somewhat risky and dangerous activity. Students pay 45 euros per month and also pay for their equipment (gloves, kneecaps etc.). Teams are separated according to age only. Adults and rarely some kids take place in kick boxing competitions.
A.O.Y (Athletic Organisasion of Ydra) is Hydra’s football team. The coach, Sotiris Daskalakis, was recently replaced by player Nektarios Kalafatis. The team consists of 16 players, ages 15. Mr.Sotiris admits there are a lot of fights between the players but they cooperate as well.<<Every player must work hard and be in a good physical condition>>he says.<<I demand a lot from the guys, like every trainer, and they give it their best shot. Also if you wanna be a football player at the A.O.Y.’s team,you absolutely need a ticket.>> he adds.
Interview with Nektarios Kalafatis (coming soon)
News on the football field’s official license (coming soon)
YNO is Hydra’s nautical club, which was established in 1955. Its activities include a water polo team, swimming lessons and classes of traditional Greek dances.
Through the contacts of current president Thodoris Moustakarias, YNO has formed a very successful team of mostly first-class veteran players and the team now competes in the first national division.
YNO offers swimming lessons in the winter at the Piraeus Municipal Pool and in the summer in Hydra (Mandraki) where, in the absence of a real swimming pool on the island, a section of the sea has been dedicated to serve this purpose.
Traditional Greek Dance
Under dance instructor George Golemis, YNO offers traditional Greek dance lessons to the children of Hydra. The groups participate in public performances in Hydra (Miaoulia festivities) but have also been invited to perform in many places around Greece (Ermioni, Aigina, Paros, Antiparos, Amorgos, Santorini, Kythira, Samos, Ios)
SPORTS EVENTS IN HYDRA
- Kids’ Athletics!
Kids’ Athletics is an athletic program organized by the Greek Athletic Federation (ΣΕΓΑΣ) and the Municipality of Hydra, under the direction of the famous Greek runner Panagiotis Charamis. Every year since 2013, this organization visits Hydra in April to give the children of the elementary schools an opportunity to participate in an athletic event and have fun together with children from other schools. Last year, the event took place at the new football field on Friday, April 3 2015 and both of our elementary schools took part, as well as children from the 13th and 23rd elementary schools from an area called Evosmos at the northwest part of Thessaloniki. This event is like a sports game between classes of each school and teams are formed randomly, as they consist of students of all ages. The teams compete in throwing, jumping and running. But it’s not a competition; it’s a friendly game in which kids can learn a lot about sports!
- Hydra’s trail event
Hydra’s Trail Event is a mountain running event which first took place in 2014. Since then, in the first days of April, 5 different mountain trail races attract hundreds of people from all over Greece and abroad to experience an amazing athletic adventure. The event is organized with the help of hundreds of local volunteers.
Juniors’ Mini Race (1.3 km)
Run n’ Fun (4.7 km)
Rock Race (10.5 km)
Eros’ Mountain Trail (25.6 km)
Downhill* (3.9 km)
*In the downhill race (the first and only such race organized in Greece) only adults are allowed to take part. It’s a very demanding and quite dangerous race.
Safety is a priority. There are doctors and nurses, as well as teams of volunteers at selected locations to ensure the safety of runners, although no accidents have happened until now.
Why participate in one of these races?
Runners will have the opportunity to experience a combination of the cosmopolitan atmosphere of Hydra, the diverse and the natural beauty of the island and the rich tradition that makes Hydra a unique place. Every participant receives a medal made by the famous jewelry designer Elena Votsi who designed the medals for the 2004 Olympic Games. Its’ an amazing event which has made Hydra even more popular and our spring days even more interesting!
The event is sponsored by several companies. Biscuit and confectionery company Papadopoulos is the Gold Sponsor. Barilla and/or Melissa provide the ingredients for the “Pasta Party” which takes place at the end of the event at the Sunset restaurant where anyone can have a bowl of delicious pasta. Other sponsors include Hellenic Seaways (boat tickets), Adventure (advertising and communication), Zaros and Vikos (water bottles), Memos Chrysikos (fruit), Holmes Place (gym). The whole event is under the auspices of the Municipality of Hydra.
The impact of this event on the island has been amazing and it has united the inhabitants to an unprecedented degree. Participation has been overwhelming. Hydra’s Trail Event has generated an incredible interest in sports and running. Kids and adults have been attracted to running and have been training hard all year to get even better running times. Many locals, young and old alike, have left the coffee shops, quit smoking and are joining the Hydra Runners, the local running group. Many now participate in various marathon events all over Greece. In addition to the social impact, the economic benefits for the island, with so many visitors in the low season, are also considerable. But maybe most important of all has been the spirit of volunteering and cooperation that this event has brought out in the inhabitants of Hydra.