By Redwan Resnick
For the past thirty years, the World Police & Fire Games has invited those who fight crime and fire to show off their athletic ability and participate in ten days of competitive sporting events before crowds of enthusiastic spectators and participants. If merely joining one’s police force or fire department didn’t present enough opportunities to engage in intense physical activity or attain recognition for feats of strength and endurance, then the biennial World Police & Fire Games, which will take place this year in Fairfax County, Virginia (June 26th-July 5th) is sure to provide additional chances for heroism.
The WPFG Federation, a non-profit organization spearheaded by the California Police Athletics Federation, held its first Games in San Jose, California in 1985, drawing nearly 5000 competitors in its inaugural year. Since then, the Games have attracted approximately 10,000 participants every two years, and boasts the second largest number of entrants for an international multi-day competitive sporting event, ranking just behind the Summer Olympic Games. Over the years the WPFG has been hosted in the United States, Canada, Sweden, Spain, the UK, Australia, and is slated to take place in China in 2019. The largest WPFG to date was held in New York City in 2011, with over 16,000 competitors representing 59 nations having registered to enter the different events.
The Games aim to promote physical fitness and well-being among police officers and firefighters. Over 50 team, multi-participant, and one-on-one competitive sporting events will be held such as basketball, billiards, darts, indoor and outdoor soccer, table tennis, mountain biking, martial arts, wrestling, boxing, body building, tug of war, lacrosse, paintball, marathons, many sports involving dogs and canine training, as well as something called “Toughest Competitor Alive”.
Registration for most team sports closes on May 31st (unless the maximum numbers of participants has not been met by that date), while registration for other events closes anytime between June 1st and just two days prior to the Games. Note that the events are for full-time law enforcement officers and career firefighters: if you’re currently studying at the Academy and have not yet earned your diploma, you’ll have to wait until the 2017 WPFG, which is expected to take place in Montreal, although recent news that Quebec firefighters plan on boycotting the event due to cuts to their pension plans by their government may force the organization to move it elsewhere.
In addition to recruiting athletes, Fairfax is also seeking to enlist over 4000 volunteers to help with a range of responsibilities and services. Individuals are required for administrative, logistical, and public service functions to help set up and communicate with athletes from various parts of the world. All potential volunteers must be at least 18 years old and agree to a background check.
If you are a proud member of two of the most important organizations devoted to protecting and serving society, and you’re interested in testing the limits of your physical strength, health, and stamina, or if you’re a sports fan and want to support and honor the people who risk their lives’ daily for the sake of public safety, then register to participate or volunteer for the 2015 WPFG in Fairfax County, Virginia.
Header photo: Toughest Competitor Alive, 2013 WPFG (Belfast – Northern Ireland). Credit: Craig Luecke