The fantastic thing about track and field is that there really is something for everyone whether you want to throw far, jump high or run fast. At England Athletics and throughout the affiliated clubs network, we’re passionate about giving people of all ages opportunities to give athletics a go and have fun - something West Midlands club Shrewsbury AC excelled in at their recent Athletics Festival.
What made the festival different?
Held for children aged 8-14, the pilot festival - supported by England Athletics - was all about introducing young people to an adapted and inclusive version of athletics in a fun, relaxed festival environment. The organisers had three clear goals for the day:
- Focus on enjoyment and remove the little stresses of a traditional competition format.
In the long jump children’s jumps were measured from where they took off opposed to the traditional board, and they could run the 60m dash on their own, or with a parent or friend. There was a running order of the day so parents could decide which parts they wanted to give a go and when they would check out the other entertainment.
- Immerse the family in the experience.
All families want to be able to celebrate with their little ones, especially when they are trying something new for the first time. Shrewsbury AC enabled parents to support from up close and had the infield as a supporting and carnival zone, something the likes of Highgate Harriers’ Night of the 10,000m PBs event has become renowned for.
Keeping the whole family entertained can be a challenge, but younger children could take part in funfair-style games, have a go on the bouncy castle or listen to the live music supplied by a local band!
- Make the day rewarding for all.
Regardless of whether you happened to have the longest jump, or the fastest race, everyone was rewarded at the Shrewsbury Athletics Festival. The focus was very much on fun, and all children received a certificate and sticker medal for taking part, whilst the parents and family members had lots of entertainment opportunities and even a prize draw!
Speaking about the event, one of the organising team, Tino Dummett said:
"It was incredible to show that even in rural counties, grassroots athletics can be popular. We created an event that put Shrewsbury AC at the centre of the community. People were even phoning their friends to come and attend, there can't be any clearer proof that this was an event that will grow the sport and be popular going forward. I am looking forward to seeing what the Festival can expand into next year."
Shrewsbury AC coach and event organiser Michael Inpong added:
"This event was very innovative, it removed the frictions we see in athletics training and competition for example needing to take off from the long jump board and running a race alone. It was great to have England Athletics support us and help us to be innovative in our delivery of this event."
What did the participants have to say?
The truth is really in the pudding (or the feedback from those who attended the event) and Shrewsbury AC really put on a fantastic show!
“My daughter and her friend absolutely loved today. The event was extremely well run and had plenty for the whole family to enjoy on the day. A massive thank you to all the organisers, helpers and volunteers today was friendly, helpful and really encouraged all the children – we will be back!”
“It was really well organised and a great afternoon, my children now would love to get into athletics.”
“I love that the participation was optional and kids could try lots of different events in a friendly environment. Wish there were more events like this one.”
“Some other athletics events I have been to are more serious and based on the athletics performance. This was calm and you could do a race, then if you wanted to sit down or enjoy the games and bouncy castle you could.”
Are you interested in hosting something similar?
We would love to help you!
At England Athletics, we are always looking for ways to innovate and adapt the traditional competition format to enable more athletes, volunteers and families to get involved and try athletics.
If you would like to find out more about the logistics or specifics of this event, or how you could look to host something similar with your club, please get in touch with Nichola Skedgel, Competition Partnerships and Innovation Manager: firstname.lastname@example.org.