Peterborough Athletic Club recently held their annual awards presentation night and England Athletics Chief Executive, Chris Jones, was one of the guests present at the event.
A range of awards were presented across the age groups including many to the club’s younger members. As club chairman Matthew Dalton explained around half of the club’s 150 members are youngsters who attend the Monday Night Club and the club’s membership is currently growing.
He said, “On Monday nights we have up to 75 youngsters – these are aged 8 to 12 years old.
“Membership is now going up. I like to think it is because we are getting better at what we do, I think we have improved and become more organised.
“We’re doing things like making the Monday Night Vlub less ‘kid-ified’ – making sure it is not a baby-sitting service – and this is something the parents and youngsters wanted. An example of this is that we used to go indoors through the winter. For the first time we are going to stay meeting at the track all winter. We had feedback from the parents and youngsters that they could get bored inside as there are less options on what you can do.
“On a Monday night they get the opportunity to do the full range of events. I coach hurdles and I am there pretty much every Monday.”
The youngsters get to do sprints, longer running events, jumps and throws and are often able to do a range of these in any given week. The club has achieved Clubmark accreditation, the awarding of which shows that the accredited club operates to a set of consistent, accepted and adopted minimum operating standards.
Matthew said that the club is working to transition youngsters from the Monday nights to the main club, but like many clubs some of the challenges remain further up the age groups. The athletes often move away due to going to university and Peterborough does not benefit from the flipside of this – there is not a university in the city that brings in university aged people.
However, over the years the club has had a number of athletes who have been successful at international level including Goldie Sayers, Kelly Sotherton, Julie Hollman and Louise Hazel while current members include British Universities champion, Simi Pam.
Through an event-specific coaching structure, with coaches between them covering all the events, Peterborough AC is able to take the young athletes coming through from the Monday Night Club and provide them with an appropriate pathway for success as Juniors and on through the Senior ranks.
Another committee member, Officials’ Secretary Colin Pettit, said, “The club has an outstanding group of new young athletes coming through and we are working hard to ensure that they are not only successful in competition but enjoy their training and wider inter-actions throughout the club.”
Colin has been involved in a number of activities in the club including its involvement in the Greater Peterborough Athletics Network. This is made up of half a dozen local clubs who work together to plan and deliver a range of activities. These activities have included holding a range of workshops for coaches and athletes, the setting up of VO2 Max testing and pilates sessions, and creating a new Road Relay event around the scenic Greenwheel cycle route which runs around the city.
The network includes a number of road running clubs and has set up track sessions for the running club fraternity and preparation sessions for the Great Eastern Run, as well as weekend cross country training sessions for athletes looking to gain representative status for the city Cross Country teams.
The network in which Peterborough AC is heavily active has also established a satellite club with one of the leading secondary schools in Peterborough, run successful Startrack Summer Holiday Athletics schemes and run popular Sportshall and QuadKids events.
England Athletics Chief Executive Chris Jones said, “It is always good to get out to visit the clubs that make up England Athletics. As with many clubs Peterborough AC is putting in some very good work in not only bringing people into the sport but also enabling them to progress through the ranks and develop towards senior success. Seeing the enthusiasm of young athletes and how this is also reflected by the senior athletes, coaches, parents and volunteers is very encouraging.
“It was good to hear more about the work being done by Peterborough AC and some of their successes, as well as hearing some of the challenges which they face, as understanding more about clubs’ experiences is hugely valuable in my role and in working to make England Athletics serve our clubs as effectively as possible.”