Pitreavie AAC – passing the baton from generation to generation

Sunday 24th April 2022

We love turning the spotlight on our clubs and the great work which is going on to gather momentum and inspire growth in our sport.

Our Club in Focus occasional series does exactly that and, over the next few Sundays, we intend to promote a few more clubs – this week we look at Pitreavie AAC, who won our track and Field Club of the Year title at the 2021 4J Annual Awards

.By Katy Barden

Pitreavie AAC’s commitment to succession planning and legacy is reaping benefits for the club and its members.

The Fife club celebrated its 65th anniversary in 2021 and has grown substantially since its cinder track days.

In addition to a thriving junior section of around 120 athletes, it has a Senior section of 260 athletes – which includes track and field and a jogscotland group which feeds into the PAACE (road running) section of the club.

It boasts a fast-growing FrameRunning group of around 15 for young athletes with disabilities, and importantly, it benefits from first class facilities befitting one of Scotland’s top clubs.

Pitreavie AAC has also enjoyed notable success since its inception, with four club members competing at the highest level for Team GB at the Olympic Games.

‘If you think back to the days of Linsey McDonald, our first Olympian, to where it is now, the sport has grown professionally, and the club set-up reflects that,’ said Pitreavie President and coach Paul Allan.

‘We were one of the few clubs – still are one of the few – to have its own club house on the premises (it was completed in 1997). That was a huge step forward.

‘When the indoor facility opened, which I think at the time was only the second one in Scotland after Grangemouth, that also had a huge impact for athletes, especially for those in technical events.’

Paul Allan with Laura Muir and the Track and Field Club of the Year trophy (photo by Bobby Gavin)

Named 2021 Track and Field Club of the Year at our 4J Annual Awards, Pitreavie’s success isn’t measured by performance alone – although the fact that four athletes were selected to represent Scotland at the 2021 Manchester International (U20) speaks for itself.

It is measured also via accessibility, enjoyment and appeal.

Retaining family members and developing young athletes across the generations is particularly meaningful.

‘That’s one of our big successes,’ added Paul.

‘Families see the club as a great option for their kids having had so much enjoyment during their own time here.

‘I think one of the biggest challenges we’ve faced in recent years is being appealing. When I was a boy growing up, you had three clubs in the area that were well known; Pitreavie for athletics, Carnegie Swimming Club and Spartans for gymnastics. That was kind of it.

‘These days, my word, kids have so many options and that’s the biggest challenge that the sport has faced; being appealing amongst all the other millions of things they can now do.’

Eilidh Doyle’s retirement from competitive athletics in 2021 was marked by the club (photo by Bobby Gavin)

In addition to the benefits that great facilities bring, Pitreavie credits the success of Run, Jump, Throw and the formalisation of young athlete programmes for retaining interest and enjoyment amongst its juniors.

‘When I joined it was a bit like, ‘Join in with whatever group has a space’, but now there’s a full programme you can buy into,’ said Paul.

‘With Run, Jump, Throw in particular, those who are keen to compete can transition into the groups that are there, but the programme is also offering something for those who just really enjoy training and meeting up with their friends.’

Similarly, its jogscotland group, ‘Ready, Steady, Go, Pitreavie!’, is also transcending the social-elite boundary. Those who are signed up can access an approved structure led by qualified coaches.

Social runners have the ability to get involved in a safe, controlled, environment, while those with more competitive ambitions can move across to the club’s PAACE section.

Regardless of level, the roll of honour board in the clubhouse reminds members of their fellow Pitreavie athletes who have made it to Olympic Games, World and European Championships and Commonwealth Games, and shows them what’s possible.

When Eilidh Doyle retired in 2021, Nicole Yeargin joined the club – an almost seamless baton exchange – and went on to represent Team GB in Tokyo, continuing an impressive tradition of Pitreavie athletes gaining international honours.

Success at the top, however, means very little without the structure to support development at grassroots level and the ability to keep athletes, especially through their teenage years, at the club.

Pitreavie has gone some way to addressing that by creating a successful initiative where its junior athletes (16 years+) gain coaching assistant qualifications.

‘They gain skills and it keeps them involved,’ said Paul.

‘When they go off to Uni it gives them the chance to come back at weekends or holidays and pick up some paid work and help out with camps. It’s providing another legacy, getting them involved and putting something back into the club.’

Photo by Bobby Gavin


Tags: Club in Focus, Eilidh Doyle, Nicole Yeargin, Paul Allan, Pitreavie AAC

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