Whilst I’m a bit despondent about where athletics in Jersey finds itself right now it’s only fair to say that there are still a lot of good things going on. Much of it has got to do with the younger age groups and their coaches so there remains hope.
The Minis (the U11s) have been a constant success under successive coaches from Karol Dodd, Mark Bolla, Karen Dingle, Karen Duquemin, Grant Stenhouse and now David Lawson. At present they are working inside on a Sunday morning. The introduction of Sportshall has been an unqualified success in keeping the young ones out of the weather during the winter months and there is never any problem with lack of numbers. Also there seem to be enough regular though unqualified helpers right now. (Once again the phenomenon of people taking entry-level coaching courses and then not following it up by working at the coal face.) Another reminder that youngsters can be enthused by competition is the long-running cross country series that is now two matches old, organised as quietly and capably as ever by Peter Hinds.
Paul Raimbault was the catalyst for the rebirth of junior running several years ago when just about nothing was happening. Together with Grant Stenhouse and a few others this group has become a microcosm of excellence and it’s everything a training squad should be with a bit of fun amongst the necessary hard work.
Karen Le Mottee, Rachel Wilkinson and Ed Widdowson are looking after the junior athletes more than capably as they enter their conditioning phase. There’s a definite balance required with this age group between development of athletics skills in the young athlete and the social element without which many will drift away.
At the top end of course no one can argue with the ‘performance’ athletes, though somewhat thin in number now some of the older ones are studying off-Island. Since Andrew joined us in 2002 we have had the coaching ability to progress junior athletes through to give them the best chance of achieving their potential, which many have.
I just hope that someone is looking at some of the organisational issues, and is considering a plan which will set us up to be stronger for the next few years and beyond.