On the offical opening day of the Olympics people flocked to a sun-drenched Kettering Market Place to watch – and try – beach volleyball.
More than 350 people saw the town’s first Urban Beach Volleyball tournament on the ‘beach’ created for the annual ‘Kettering By the Sea’ entertainment programme on Saturday.
Steve Edwards, of Kettering Council, said: “It’s been fantastic. Loads of people have come out.”
The 10-hour tournament saw Millbrook Junior School win a competition for four junior schools, a team of Kettering Air Cadets beat Army Cadets and a team of Kettering Council workers compete against Air Cadets and Kettering Volleyball Club on 21 tons of sand from Leighton Buzzard in Bedfordshire.
Kettering Premier Judo Club gave demonstrations of their skills on mats alongside the beach and invited members of the public to try the Olympic sport.
Insp Dick Aistrop, sector commander for Kettering and member of Kettering Premier Judo Club, said: “I’ve been told there are more people down here than the town centre.
“We have had a lot of interest and given away a lot of leaflets. I’m sure we are going to make a fair number of new members as well.
“We hope, if the council agree, to carry out some more events here in the future.”
Matt Smith performed indie hits and covers under the Market Place shelter in the evening for spectators who stayed on past 5pm.
Lisa Dawsom, 46, of Kettering, was watching her 14-year-old Air Cadet son Joshua compete in the cadets final.
She said: “I think it’s absolutely brilliant.
“It’s lovely. It’s a day out. It’s marvellous.”
Paul Albery, 44, of Burton Latimer, was waiting with his 11-year-old son James to watch his wife Karen compete as part of the Kettering Council team.
He said: “I think it’s great. The only time you see beach volleyball is when you go on holiday.
“It brings everyone together, especially when the Olympics are on.”
James, who enjoyed trying the sport on holiday, said: “It’s good.”
A coach from the National Volleyball Centre, based at Kettering Conference Centre, staged lessons for school pupils in anticipation of the event and trials for the tournament were held on the centre’s beach volleyball courts.
Loatlands Primary school in Desborough has added volleyball to its curriculum for next year after the coaching.
Kettering by the Sea, in which children can play in the sand in Market Place, will continue for another three weeks.