The four clubs in the network all have strong qualities which set them apart from each other, but they also have a lot in common. Three of the clubs have very strong endurance sections, but all could benefit from sharing good practice. St. Mary’s Richmond are the only club to hold clubmark, but could help share how this award is achieved and maintained.
St Mary’s University College (SMUC) offers huge potential to the clubs in terms of new athletes, coaches and administrators. St Mary’s has confirmed it is willing to engage with the development of a SW London club athletics network. It has been suggested that the idea of a network that specialised in endurance – not exclusively of course but with a particular focus – is particularly appealing for St. Mary’s.
England Athletics, SMUC and London Marathon are collaborating to set up a grass roots to elite endurance development programme, so combining a community club network with a strong talent development line would be fairly unique. Pooling various resources would also be very cost effective.
They could also provide access to training courses for club members and also further academic study. There could be scope for under graduate and post graduate students to work with the clubs to develop new research.
Clubs could work more closely with school sport partnerships, local authority sports development teams and county sport partnership to support schools and regional events such as London youth games in a more strategic manner.
There are some very talented coaches working in all of the partnership clubs. St. Mary’s Richmond have some strong endurance, high jump and heavy throws coaches, Kingston some strong sprints, hurdles, pole vault and javelin coaches, Ranelagh and Stragglers have very good long distance and marathon coaches. Between the clubs, almost every discipline is covered. The network would enable members from each of the clubs to benefit from these specialist coaches.
The creation of a Network Coaching Plan (NCP) would help to rationalise processes for recruitment, training and development programmes, as well as the possibility of joint training days, master classes and flying coach visits. Coaches could be trained to act of mentors or ‘buddy’s’ for fellow coaches, offering opportunities to act both as a critical friend and an educator.
All of the clubs are dependent on a small number of dedicated volunteers. The clubs are very traditional in their structures and procedures. There could be scope for working together to explore innovative solutions to common problems. Current practises could be reviewed and evaluated.