On Tuesday 12 November, England Athletics CEO, Chris Jones, took part in a club visit to Guernsey Athletics Club, alongside colleague and local Club Support Manager, Sarah Gardiner.
Chris visits a number of our member clubs each month, to find out more about how they work, their history, what they do well, the challenges they face and to understand more about how we can support them to develop. Read all about his visit to Guernsey below:
‘It was great to visit Guernsey Athletics Club earlier this week, to meet and speak with club members and discuss the sport in general and of course answer questions relating to how we can support them as a member body.
‘I’d heard many positive things about the club from our local Club Support Manager, Sarah Gardiner, who joined me on the trip, and was already aware of the islands strong track record of producing international standard athletes over the years, including Lee Merrien and Tom Druce. As well as the islands rich Games history, and was interested in learning more about how this works as a multi sports competition.
‘I was also aware of the strong cross sport partnership that’s in place between football, athletics, rugby and hockey, with the fantastic facilities available for participants and performers of all abilities, ages and aspirations. The multi-sport approach is something that we are particularly interested in as a national governing body, because it’s important that we make the best use of available facilities and of course volunteer time and resource in supporting the growth of all sports to impact participation. The model in Guernsey of a cross sport partnership involving clubs, the islands sports commission and the state is extremely effective, and it was good to hear and learn more about this. I’m sure that other clubs on the mainland can learn a lot from this approach, and I will take some of these findings back to share with other member clubs.
‘I learnt more about the club’s recent investment in the newly refurbished track and the installation of the new Thor cage, which I believe is one of few in place at present. There’s no doubt that this facility will help the development of the technical throwing events on the island. The facilities are a fantastic provision for all participants and competitors, but of course without the countless volunteer coaches and helpers, coordinated and supported by Tom Druce, as the Athletics Development Officer and the Club Administrator, then it would be much harder to realise the success that the island has enjoyed.
‘I’m hopeful that we may be able to work together in the areas of schools, coaching and athlete development in the future and further discussions between Tom, the sports commission and our team will continue beyond this visit. We thoroughly enjoyed bringing our U20 international team to compete against a Guernsey and Scotland team in 2018, and we’re already looking at how we can repeat a similar approach in the coming year or two (resources permitting). Providing opportunities for talented athletes to represent their country, as part of their ongoing development is a fundamentally important aspect of what England Athletics and of course the Guernsey Federation do, a shared ambition! With the Commonwealth Youth Games due to take place in 2021 and the senior event taking place in Birmingham in 2022, we all stand to benefit from ongoing collaboration.
‘I would like to thank Alun Williams, Tom Druce, Lee Merrien, Louise and others on the island for their kind hospitality and look forward to further partnership working.’
Speaking about the visit, Tom Druce, Athletics Development Officer and the Club Administrator, added: ‘It was great to meet Chris and show him around our new facilities. We had some interesting discussions about the model we have in place on the island and some of the challenges and opportunities alike that our situation provides. I think it is a really nice idea for him to look to visit all member clubs like this, as it gives people at the heart of the sport a feeling of real access and association with England Athletics.’
Endurance events at the club
Guernsey Athletics Club host two main endurance events during the year and welcome athletes of all ages and standards – the four-day Easter Festival (5k, XC, XC-relay, 10k) and Father’s Day Half Marathon. Information about these events will be featured on their website in due course. Anyone interested in the events and getting involved at the club can also email: firstname.lastname@example.org