Club development is crucial to the growth of athletics in Scotland – and there are many examples happening across the length and breadth of the country.
In a new feature for the website, we intend to turn the spotlight each month on a specific club where members are benefiting from good practice, inspired leadership, special projects and dedicated volunteers.
Our ‘Club In Focus’ articles will outline what’s taking place and we open the feature with great news from south-west Edinburgh and tremendous growth – mainly at junior level – at Harmeny AC.
In January 2016, Harmeny AC, in partnership with scottishathletics and City of Edinburgh Council, appointed for the first time a Club Development and Coaching Officer.
This 12-hour per week role was taken up by Lorraine Boyd, UKA Level Two coach, former Whitemoss AAC athlete and Heriot Watt University graduate.
The rationale for the post was simple – the club wanted to grow capacity with a particular focus at junior level.
Now, some 18 months later and the results have been staggering. Club membership has grown from 215 to 360 members, representing a 70 percent growth.
There are now 23 junior athletics sessions taking place every week in south-west Edinburgh, involving approximately 350 young athletes across the pathway.
The range of athletics activity now undertaken includes:
*The Club’s long standing junior athletics progamme taking place at both Balerno High School and Saughton Sports Complex on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings.
*New Club activity taking place in satellite centres in Firhill, Balerno, and Currie high schools. These sessions are for primary aged pupils delivered in a cluster school approach and in addition there are secondary school sessions taking place directly after their school day on site at their respective schools
*There are a range of primary school breakfast, lunch and after school classes being delivered in close partnership with the Active Schools Team.
These take place across the full catchment area including activity taking place in Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation (SIMD) areas and the club have introduced a special membership category for any athlete to receive financial support toward their membership and weekly fees where appropriate.
Also the club have set up a specific project aimed at running and jogging which has recently been established in Westerhailes Quarry on a Friday afternoon.
*New beginner sessions delivered at the new Scotland’s Sports Performance Centre, ORIAM, in partnership with the Community Sports Hub.
*For all these athletes described above there is a holiday programme established during summer and Easter holidays, competition opportunities provided throughout the year in both track and field and cross country as well as club-based Water of Leith mini marathon, Track and Field Champs and inter-club match with Corstorphine AAC and in partnership the club are providing opportunities for coaches to upskill and develop to support the growing programme.
Harmeny AC at the scottishathletics Indoor SuperTEAMS event
The project is managed by a Steering Group, who meet on a regular basis, and include – Harmeny AC, scottishathletics, the three Active Schools Co-ordinators who operate in this area, and the South West Edinburgh Community Sports Hub and, of course, Lorraine.
This group meeting on a regular basis has undoubtedly been one of the contributory factors to the early success in the project, along with the dedicated coaching resource that Lorraine provides however also the vision from the club, especially through secretary and junior coach, Craig Stewart is a key ingredient working alongside a range of other volunteers and coaches.
Although the project described above focusses on the junior section of the club the adult side of the club have also witnessed some significant progression.
These developments have included the growth of the jogscotland section of the club, the introduction of regular track sessions, weekly runs in the Pentlands and very importantly a strong social scene.
There is a deep desire to continue and sustain the current programme however also discussions are underway in terms of expanding into other cluster areas and alongside this strengthening and growing the overall club infrastructure and programme further.
There is certainly a demand for even more athletics activity in the south-west Edinburgh and beyond – the club are determined to help meet this demand.