20 years ago...
26 years ago I was a serving soldier in the Royal Army Physical Training Corps, specialising as a Remedial Therapist, rehabilitating soldiers after injury. Servicemen would typically get injured on the front line, be medically treated as far as possible in hospital then transferred to us for rehab. We would take all types of disabilities and work with them to a level whereby they were fit to rejoin their unit, or in many cases, discharge from the Services to work in Civvy Street.
It was during this posting that, as part of my job, I developed exercise programmes specific to each soldier’s injury. During these times we would run games sessions which included exercises for example doing press ups whilst playing croquet when the opponents ball went through the hoop. We would play standard quiz games with general knowledge questions that just didn't do justice for the sports minded guys I worked with. There never did seem to be anything sports specific to use during these sessions. The Sporting Challenge idea was born!
I worked on the idea of a sport related board game at a very basic level and left it on the shelf, picked it up again, left it on the shelf again and so it went on. I contacted a number of games companies without success and tried to make it happen myself. There were a number of people I contacted along the way, but it just didn't work out with for whatever reason.
In late 2011 I found myself with the resources to bring all of the strands together including time, finances and a supportive wife. For copyright reasons I was unable to use the word 'Olympic' in the title, but was very keen to launch the game ahead of the London 2012 Games. I just about made it.
The hunt for a manufacturer took me across Europe & Asia, eventually settling with the very helpful John Langley at Cartamundi. He was so very supportive and able to fill the gaps I had with the production process. He also had a great contact, Brad Baker, who was just the most helpful designer, being very patient as I um-ed and ah-ed about this & that etc.
A long-standing friend of mine James Coakes had a very good contact who was able to build the website to the spec required and within budget. James was also able to help and manage any online marketing required. It would be very easy to make a full time job of the project for myself, but I have one of those.
With the online presence being key a video to show the game was also key, Jono de la Haye was just great at bringing this together, during the creative and technical part of the process.
So, here we have the finished article - it is out of my head and in a box, it feels great to have accomplished this at last. It might seem small to some, but a significant part of my brain has now become free of 'it'. I guess I can now use that bit of brain to look at the development of the second edition!
I have sent a copy of the game to the guys at the Defence Services Medical Rehabilitation Unit, Headley Court in Surrey and continue to support the organisations that come alongside our war heroes in their time of need. I trust they will enjoy the game as much as they enjoyed croquet with press-ups!
A list of those to thank:
Sarah my patient wife
Russ Morgan, fellow Physical Training Instructor back then
Ray & Caz Averill, sister & brother in law, question masters
Justin Le Gresley, design assistant
Kayleigh Renouf, design assistant
Local sports clubs, for video venues
James Coakes, a good mate, web content & SEO
Lance Taylor from Front Ltd for web design & hosting
Jono & video team, promo videos