Working in-depth with 17 clubs over a three-year period, Athletics NZ have launched their Club Development Programme. Steve Landells asked the questions to Athletics NZ Club Development Manager Cat O’Sullivan to find out more.
What is the background to launching the programme?
CO: The Club Development Programme is an extension of the Club Endorsement Programme (a project based on supporting clubs in building their capacity to deliver the resources and programmes of the Athletics NZ Participation Pathway) we launched a while back. We worked with 35 clubs on that programme. Out of 180 clubs we had 25 apply for the Club Development Programme and from these we selected 17. We tried to pick clubs which offered a balance between both city and rural and across both the North and South Islands. The main purpose of the programme is to first establish the club’s strategy (vison, purpose and objectives) with the help of an external consultant. We will support clubs to achieve their objectives and become strong and capable clubs. One size does not fit all and we have a range of clubs operating in different communities. Throughout this process we want to be able to share good practice and examples of what has worked well to assist other clubs and the wider community.
What is the first stage of the process for club’s embarking on the Club Development Programme?
Each club will be offered two sessions to create their strategy with the help of leading consultant Lindsay Corban (a former director of KPMG and a current director of Ngatarawa Wines Limited). We’ll have an initial strategic planning session before a follow up session takes place to flesh out the details and create an action plan for the club’s objectives for the next three years.
How do you hope to harbour growth and meet the needs of participants?
We really want to encourage clubs to understand their market and who they are trying to attract. We can’t just keep doing what we have always done. We need to understand what our membership wants, but also what the community would like to see in an athletics club. The aim is to put a plan in place and deliver on this.
How will the work of the 17 clubs be promoted and showcased to the other 160 clubs in New Zealand?
We certainly want to showcase anything that works well, so the other clubs can learn from and hopefully trial in their own clubs and communities. We would like to celebrate and recognise the hard work the clubs are doing. We’ll try to achieve this through social media, the Club Connect Conference, Club Chat and Athletics in Action.
What other support do you offer?
The strategic plan will indicate the key areas of focus for each club. We will then help and support the clubs to help themselves. This could be assistance anything from coach education and volunteer management to delivering developmentally appropriate programmes and value to their members.
Will there be a strong focus on coaching?
Yes. After carrying out the Voice of the Participant survey in 2017 through Sport NZ one of the major standout pieces of data was around coaching. It was very clear that many people at all levels and in all regions across New Zealand are not satisfied with the quality of coaching they are receiving at club level.
This is something we need to address and one of the key focuses of the Club Development Programme is to build both the quality and quantity of coaches within each of the clubs. It is important to stress that no one model fits all clubs, so we know we have to work with the club on this. Another aspect we will be looking at is making sure that developmentally appropriate coaching programmes are delivered. We have currently got the Get Set Go programme aimed at under 7s and Run Jump Throw 7-10. We are aware and have identified a gap in coaching from 11 years and upwards. We understand clubs are losing members because they don’t have coach capability, so we hope to help clubs to plug this gap.
So, will the coaching needs be driven by the clubs as opposed to by Athletics NZ?
Absolutely. We don’t want to dictate to the clubs. We will simply offer different options to suit different ages, and we will be encouraging clubs to utilise them.
What would be a success?
For each club to successfully implement their strategy. From Athletics NZ’s perspective, we would like to see the strong growth of clubs offering both engaging and innovative programmes relevant to their communities. Then we can hopefully share that success and for other clubs to learn from it across the country.
Why is it worth Athletics NZ worth investing in the clubs?
Clubs are the heart of athletics and the centre of everything we do – they are the place in each community where people can access and participate in athletics. A strong club in the community is important for the growth and long-term health of the sport.
Seventeen clubs have signed up for the Club Development Programme
Central Auckland Cluster
(Auckland City Athletics, Hillsborough Junior Athletics Club, Pt Chevalier Athletics, Ellerslie Athletic and Harrier Club, Eastern Athletic and Harrier Club, Roskill South Athletic Club)
North Harbour Bays Athletics
Cambridge Athletic and Harrier Club
Te Awamutu Athletic Club
Hastings Athletic Club
Hastings Harrier Club
Feilding Moa Harrier Club
Lower Hutt Athletic Club
Wellington Harrier Athletics Club
Christchurch Avon Athletic Club
Port Hills Athletic Club
South Canterbury Athletics Club
Ariki Athletics and Harrier Club
Hill City University Athletic Club
Aspiring Athletes Club
St Paul’s Harrier and Athletic Club