DONCASTER Athletic Club’s remarkable progress since they moved to the Keepmoat Stadium complex in 2007 has been recognised by a prestigious national award.
The South Yorkshire club, an amalgamation of the former Doncaster Plant and Stainforth clubs in the 1990s, was presented with the England Athletics Club Development Award in Birmingham.
“We are delighted to have won the award; it’s not the kind of thing that you win overnight,” said club chairman Kevin Lincoln.
“It takes years of hard work to be in with a chance of wining the trophy; it’s not judged on one year’s efforts.
“The club has only been going five years in its present format and the focus on the award was on our approach to disability and when Katharine Merry (a former international sprinter who compered the event) read the reasons that we had won the award, she said that we were leading the way nationally in disability athletics.
“But that was only the opening gambit. She said that we were well focused on coaching development and that we’d seen a significant increase in membership.
“The award is based on overall development and we are top of the field in all that we do.
“If we do something we research it beforehand and we do it well and I think that’s one of the benefits of being a company limited by guarantee. We’ve got an excellent pro-active board of directors who have operational responsibilities as well as strategic and works far better than the old committee model.
“Katharine also said that we were one of the few clubs in the country who were achieving an asset transfer of the site (track) from the local authority.
“It’s not quite gone through yet and we’ve a few little things to sort out. The document is nearly 40 pages long so it has been quite laborious going through every line and making sure that everything is right, but we are nearly there and it should all be sorted before the end of the year.
“We’ve done a lot of talking and we’ve finally nailed it down and I’m confident that the arrangement will give us everything that we need to go forward.
“Somebody asked me the other week whether I was worried about what we are taking on. You can be worried if you are the wrong type of person, but I think it is an exciting opportunity.
“One of the advantages of the club running the stadium is that anyone wanting to use the facilities, including the football pitch in the middle of the track, and as a result we are being introduced to all sorts of partners who are coming on board with sponsorship and it’s widening the business so the opportunities for more cash injection which could hopefully lead to a clubhouse somewhere down the line a reality.
“We are continuing to increase the number of coaches, we’ve currently got 35 at the club, and we’ve got 24 young athletes, mostly from the club ,on a Young Leaders’ course this weekend.
“We’ve got over 100 youngsters waiting to join the club so we’ve re-hashed all the coaching structure and we are bringing in extra coaches to help deal with the numbers. We are working to a plan and it’s bearing fruit.
“The people on this weekend’s course will be able to work under a qualified coach and be able to take warm-ups and things like that.”
A Saturday morning pilot coaching session at the track for youngsters inspired to take up the sport by the London Olympics but not able to be accommodated on a regular training night, has been extended until further notice.