|Network Name||Dorset Athletics Network (Team Dorset)|
|Start Date||June 2010|
|Athletics clubs and Running Clubs in Network
|Network Chair/ Contact||Chair - Mike Furse: email@example.com
Volunteer Coordinator - Lindsay Hole: firstname.lastname@example.org
CCSO - Anneliese Heard:email@example.com
Dorset is a rural county with its main population centre, athletics clubs and athletics facilities in the Bournemouth conurbation in the east of the county. This proposal seeks to increase athletic participation in the rest of the county. The three largest towns outside the conurbation are Weymouth, Dorchester and Wimborne. Each supports its own athletics club and each has its own small coaching staff. However, resources are stretched in each club and constrain the range of coaching expertise and level of competition provided. The distances involved and the poor transport infrastructure provide even greater restrictions on athletes in rural areas.
To provide better competition for their athletes, the clubs joined forces with Poole AC, a large club in the Bournemouth conurbation, to form Team Dorset and to enter combined teams in the McCain Young Athletes League (YAL) and the Southern Men’s and Women’s Leagues. The success of this venture can be measured by the team’s rapid rise to the Southern Premier Division of the YAL.
With the mechanism in place to provide higher standards of competition, the four clubs now intend to build on this platform by greater integration of their coaching resources and by building on participatory opportunities in both urban and rural areas. They intend to achieve these objectives through three interlinked programmes:
Improving the level of coaching is the key objective through which the sustained growth of participation becomes possible. It will involve clear athlete pathways, built on collaborative use of the network’s coaches, external expertise and optimal use of local facilities. Through clear and tailored objectives, athletes will be provided with a quality of experience difficult to achieve in their individual clubs and, thus, be better able to maximise their potential. Coach education is critical to this process and will be achieved through a mentoring programme, England Athletics courses, local coach education programmes and event specific courses using England Athletics regional staff.
Increased participation will involve a substantial outreach component with the creation and development of local training groups in areas of rural and social deprivation. Collaboration with Impact Athletics will be a key element of this objective. Increased participation will be built upon through collaborative training for existing and potential members and will benefit from the creation of new, local competitive opportunities. The network will also act to develop coaching and competition opportunities for disabled athletes.
To help implement the plan and to sustain levels of participation, the network will appoint part-time coaching and volunteer coordinators. A publicity unit will be established to raise awareness of opportunities and links with outreach groups will be consolidated.
The plan is flexible and links to other local clubs, schools and organisations will continue to be developed for the benefit of the whole Dorset athletics community. The network will fully support the proposed Redlands athletics track in Weymouth and see it as a valuable potential asset in the final year of the plan and for sustaining future participation and athlete development
|The story so far||
This collaboration has already brought considerable success with our composite team, Team Dorset, rising from the lowest tier of the Young Athletes League to the Southern Premier Division in just two seasons. In doing so, we are providing the best athletes from three small clubs to attain a level of competition their their own clubs, acting alone, could not have aspired to. It has also led to common training sessions and to some exchange of coaches, although the latter opportunity could be better grasped with sufficient funding.
Next year, Weymouth will join Team Dorset and should hopefully benefiit in the same way as the initial three clubs have. Team Dorset already have an established administrative set up with a team constitution, committee and annual general meetings.
In addition to working together, the four clubs have also been developing ever closer links with Impact Athletics and the Summer Training Camps, School taster days and the North Dorset Training camps at Shaftesbury and Salisbury are already feeding athletes into our clubs. Coaches at Wimborne and Weymouth, in particular, are working with the Impact Athletics training groups at Blandford and Osprey (Portland) respectively.
We believe that our successful collaboration, and that with Queen Elizabeth School, Wimborne, could well form the basis for a successful Athletics Network. However, we are unsure whether we are in a position to draw up a detailed formal plan and application by the application date of 24th October. We would benefit from more time to elaborate a network plan with local government support and commercial sponsorship.