M60 Athletics Network Inter-Club Trophy
The pilot competition organized by the M60 Athletics Network took place on Sunday 29th July at Longford Park, Stretford. The M60 Athletics Network Inter-Club Trophy Meeting involved eight teams competing over three different age groups: U11, U13 and U15. Athletes were awarded points for their team that counted towards the age group competitions, and medals were given to the first three in each event. The eight teams competing were: Altrincham, Bury, DASH, East Cheshire, Horwich, Rochdale, Salford Met and Trafford.
With the weather improving throughout the day, the crowd were treated to an exciting day of competition. After witnessing the exciting relay competitions at the end of the day, Mike Harris, Network Chair, remarked, “There are eight clubs taking part in a fun environment, with the crowd really getting invovled - it's a great atmosphere.”
There were trophies on offer for each of the age groups; with the team that had the highest combined boys' and girls' total being victorious. In the U11 competition, Howrich RMI Harriers & AC produced a number of impressive performances to win the team trophy. Individually, there were stand-out performances from both Abby O'Neill (East Cheshire) and Jamie Wrench (DASH), each winning two events and finishing second in another. Abby won the U11G 600m and Long Jump, and finished equal 2nd in the 150m. Jamie won the U11B 75m and 150m, whilst coming a close 2nd in the Long Jump.
The U13 competition saw a dominant performance from DASH AC, winning both the boys' and girls' competition on the day to run away with the overall trophy. DASH’s stand-out performer was Jenni Park who won the U13G 75m and Long Jump, but was just pipped by Paige Ditchfield (East Cheshire) into 2nd in the Javelin. Paige not only won the Javelin, but the Discus too, as well as a 2nd place finish in the Shot. On the boys' side, one of the best performances of the day came in the 800m, where Colin Daly (Trafford) ran a fantastic 2:24.9 for the win. Oscar Johnson (Altrincham) and James Ainley (DASH) shared the top two spots in both sprinting events, with James winning the 100m, and Oscar gaining revenge in the 200m. The throws were dominated by Azhaar Niazi (Altrincham) who claimed victory in the Shot, and followed up with a pair of 2nd place finishes in the Discus and Javelin.
The U15B 200m produced one of the most exciting results of the day, with a three-way tie for 2nd place between Max Steward (East Cheshire), Ivan Encarnacao (Salford Met) and Joshua Pemberton (Trafford). Eventual winner Oliver Radcliffe (Bury) also finished 2nd in the 100m, with Ivan securing the victory in 12.1s. In the field, Sam Dean (East Cheshire) took a brace of silver medals in the Discus and Javelin, but went one better and secured gold in the Shot with a throw of 8.48m. The girls' competition saw a 100m/200m sprint double victory by Naomi Ogbeta (Salford Met) with scintillating times of 12.8s and 26.9s. After two 2nd place finishes in the 100m and 200m, Natalia Nunes (Trafford) finally secured a gold medal in the Long Jump, with a leap of 4.38m. After a close competition, it was Salford Metropolitan AC that won the team trophy.
With the competition providing great entertainment throughout the day, attention turned to one of the initiative’s main aims: introducing new volunteers to athletics. As Sarah Friday, Club and Coach Support Officer for England Athletics explains, “The event today is the first one and it has been brilliant. Of course the competition has been important, but it has also been about getting the volunteers and officials involved. We are trying to introduce a mentoring programme where we will encourage these new volunteers to take part again and again, and help teach them. Ultimately, we hope that we can move some of them towards gaining qualifications.” One such first time volunteer, David Kennedy, expressed his delight at being able to help out at the event, “I wasn't sure what I was doing to begin with, but I soon found my feet. It's more enjoyable than just watching the event!”
This event will be a springboard for an expanded programme of competitions in the future. With a potential league system being introduced, Mike Harris described how the Network will move forward, “We are hoping that we can eventually get the clubs in the network to host their own match, encouraging more parents, children and volunteers to get involved.” This is something that will be supported by the participating clubs, as the reaction to the event was overwhelmingly positive, as John Snape, Altrincham Team Manager, stated, “this event has a really bright future.”
After a fun and exciting competition, with over 250 athletes and nearly 50 volunteers helping make the event a success, Colin Allen, Athletics Network Co-ordinator, summed up his reaction to how the day had unfolded, “This is a pilot event, a starting point. Everyone I have spoken to has enjoyed it, the kids have competed well, and the volunteers have enjoyed the opportunity to be part of the event. We are hopeful that they will continue to help out in the future. Our aim is to make this intiative an enjoyable part of the calendar."
The M60 Athletics Network’s next event will be a QuadKids competition on 30th September.
Photos kindly provided by Jack Cassidy