CLUB HELPERS WANTED – WE NEED YOUR SUPPORT
Running an athletic club requires a lot of support and the club is completely reliant on volunteers. Each year we lose and gain athletes. When we lose athletes, we often also lose the support of their parents. Some of our volunteers started helping with their children many years ago and continue to support the club. In some cases, they have helped for decades. Many of our helpers are also competing athletes. Recently we have started to lose some of our long-standing volunteers, at the same time struggling to get new volunteers to replace them. Many of our regular volunteers are now carrying out multiple roles within the club. Typical of the problem are coaches where they are trying to supervise their group at the track, but at the same time are also trying to sort out membership queries, club vest issues, payments, team queries, Medway Park issues etc. At times things can be difficult for those involved and we really need to increase the number of volunteers to ensure the club can continue successfully.
All future new members, and where relevant their parents/guardians, will be asked to go through a quick induction to outline how the club operates (an explanation of age groups, leagues, the requirement for athletes to compete etc.) and also to ask how new members and their parents/guardians can help the club.
Medway & Maidstone AC is a competitive club and competes in numerous leagues, covering all age groups. The main aim of our coaches is to train athletes to compete and the club expects all those training to be part of their respective age group competing team whenever possible. We also require support from volunteers to ensure our teams can train regularly and compete successfully.
There are many support roles that are essential for the training of athletes and for running athletics meetings. It is hoped that everyone connected with the club will be able to help in some way. The following is a breakdown of some of the roles required just to keep an athletic club active. Please consider how you can help and then let us know so we can help you to help us. This is vitally important if we are to continue to train, compete and hold home meetings.
The more volunteers we can get, the easier it will be for everyone as we can then spread the load. A reduced or even free membership is available for those that help on a regular basis over a full season.
The following text mainly relates to Medway Park where we currently need a lot of assistance. Sutton Valence track has a different arrangement for maintenance of the track and field and this is carried out by the school, with support from club members. If you are a parent or athlete at Sutton Valence and want to get involved in volunteering (particularly in officiating) please liaise with Steve Fury or Paul Young in the first instance.
OFFICIALS AND MEETING HELPERS
Every athletic league that the club currently competes in requires officials to be provided by all competing clubs (for both home and away meetings). When the required officials aren’t provided, the team lose points. These points are deducted from the points gained by the athletes competing in track and field events. Specific field events are designated to competing clubs and the clubs must then cover these events with both trained officials and helpers. In addition to the field event team(s), a specific number of track judges and timekeepers are also required. For home meetings, the home club is also required to provide other officials and admin support, in addition to those above, to ensure the meeting runs efficiently.
It is always beneficial to athletes when they can compete at their home venue. However, running a home meeting requires more support than away meetings and we often struggle to put on home meetings. When we hold Open Meetings at Medway Park, we are often limited in the events we can put in place as we frequently don’t have enough officials/helpers.
Currently, the club is desperately short of officials/helpers generally, but especially to cover field events, so if you can help out, please let us know.
Getting started as an official is very straight forward and initially just requires helping the trained officials with tasks such as measuring, raking the sandpit, replacing high jump/pole-vault bars, holding measuring tapes or retrieving implements. The club intends to hold training sessions through winter and spring to give those unfamiliar with events a better insight into the required duties and clarify key rules. At league meetings, the points that are awarded (or deducted) for officials relates to trained officials, so it is also important we continue to move some helpers up the ladder. Initially this is very straight forward and requires involvement at just 4 meetings and a one-day training course (paid for by the club) to attain Level 1.
The club is very lucky to have several very highly qualified officials that have helped the club for many years such as Sarah and Maureen Fletcher, Andy Midwinter and Sian Thomas and they, along with others, are always willing to act in a mentoring role.
It is appreciated that parents can sometimes be concerned that they will miss their children competing if they are volunteering. In most cases we can work round this, so that they can do both.
ROLES WITHIN THE CLUB
FIELD EVENTS OFFICIALS & HELPERS
As mentioned above, we require numerous volunteers to manage field events at every meeting we attend. Getting started is very easy and there will always be support from a trained official.
TRACK OFFICIALS, TIMEKEEPERS & ASSISTANT STARTERS
For anyone interested in helping in track-related events there are three distinct roles. The duties of Track Judges, amongst other things, are monitoring finishing positions, track etiquette and lane discipline. Timekeepers record athlete’s finishing times, again under supervision of trained officials. Assistant Starters work at the start of races to ensure athletes are in the correct lanes and starting positions etc. The Assistant Starter works with the Starter to ensure races start to the required rules. The club and athletics generally are desperately short of starters and this is another role you may consider working towards. As with the field events, volunteer helpers will always be working under supervision.
WORK AT MEDWAY PARK
The Centre at Medway Park provide limited support for athletics such as grass cutting and some funding for larger infrastructure work. Athletics meetings are completely managed by the club. The club also provides practically all of the loose equipment for training and competition. The club also maintains all the loose equipment and a lot of the fixed equipment.
For home meetings, we require a team to organize the track and field equipment as well as other set-up equipment, such as barriers, refreshments for officials, results and the PA system. There is a lot of work required setting up before a meeting starts, as well as during the meeting and at the end to clear away. Traditionally we use young athletes to help and the club pays them for this, working alongside a couple of regular adult supervisors. However, this isn’t always easy as the young athletes can only do this when they are not competing. Therefore, they are only available for specific meetings. We, therefore, also need several adults to become part of this team. As with other roles, you won’t be expected to work on your own and the more volunteers we get the less frequent you will be required.
In addition to the work required on the day of home meetings, there is also a lot of work required to keep equipment in good order for training and competition generally and also to ensure England Athletics rules (which change on a regular basis) are met. In addition to general work, we also frequently require help from volunteers with special skills. General work includes clearing track edges, painting track marks, clearing out and setting up long jump/triple jump troughs, changing hammer wires, maintaining starting blocks and hurdles, tidying around the throwing areas etc., etc. For more specific new/improvement work we would benefit greatly from anyone with special skills such as concrete/slabbing, carpentry, sheet metal workers/fabrication or any other building/engineering specialist skill, although for many tasks we will be just grateful for an extra pair of hands. We currently have a list of improvements we would like to complete before the start of the 2022 season.
Much of the success of the club is down to the day-to-day coaching by our coaching teams at Medway Park and Sutton Valence who work very hard all year round. We are, however, always looking for volunteers to help our coaches. Some volunteers are just happy supporting coaches by carrying out tasks such as helping with warm ups, getting equipment out or timing athlete’s interval sessions. Others may want to take this further by attending a Coaching Assistant course (paid for by the club), then even further by attending an Athletics Coach course. Currently we are desperately short of volunteer helpers to assist the younger group coaches at Medway Park. Anyone interested in helping out our coaches please let us know, especially if you have a younger child training at Medway Park.
Team Managers are required to cover all age groups, male and female, from Under 13s to Masters and for Winter and Summer seasons. With the younger age groups, it is normal for parent Team Managers to move up to manage a different age group as their children move up an age group. This means we are regularly looking for new Team Manager volunteers, especially for the youngest age groups. It is also important to get potential managers agreed in advance so that they can work for a season or part season to learn the required duties from the existing manager.
GENERAL CLUB SUPPORT
In addition to the above specific roles, the club also needs volunteers to cover a wide range of other roles such as results inputting, club clothing, general admin, etc.
PLEASE CONSIDER HOW YOU WOULD LIKE TO HELP THE CLUB IN ONE (OR MORE) OF THE FOLLOWING ROLES:
- Field Official Volunteer/official
- Track Judge Volunteer/official
- Timekeeper Volunteer/official
- Assistant Starter Volunteer/official
- Medway Park Athletics Meeting Team helper
- Medway Park maintenance/improvement Team
- Coach helper
- Assistant Coach
- Team Manager Volunteer
- Miscellaneous general club support
If you can help in any way, please contact Steve Hesketh at firstname.lastname@example.org or discuss with your immediate club contact.