Former pole vault world champion Rens Blom warned here today at the European Athletics Young Leaders Forum that more athletics clubs need to unite together to preserve young people’s interest in track and field.
The Dutchman was the guest interviewee on day three of the Forum, which aims to equip young people to design and deliver projects that benefit the grassroots of athletics and local communities.
In an effort to attract and sustain the potential stars of tomorrow, the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) created its Kids’ Athletics programme in 2005.
The programme looks to ensure a steady and sustainable policy of the development of athletics and is intended for clubs, Member Federations, schools and all institutions that are interested in the well-being of children.
Blom, winner of the 2005 World Championships in Helsinki, described the athletics club culture in his native Holland as “very strong”.
But he believes more clubs across the board ought to work in collaboration with others to make the most of the money they have at their disposal.
“It’s very expensive to hire coaches and not every club can hire a lot of coaches, let alone a full-time coach,” he said.
“So why not unite 10 clubs into one club so you can hire three coaches and can train everybody?”
Blom added: “I think it’s about making it more open.
“Do not draw a line between clubs.
“Make sure kids enjoy what they’re doing at the place and time where it’s most convenient.
“There’s so many things that we can do nowadays.”
Following the interview with Blom, the young leaders took part in a session on innovative communications, led by 2010 Forum participant Kevin Gabrielli and representatives of Netherlands-based youth network Jong Oranje.
This was followed by four separate workshop sessions, run by members of the Young Leaders Forum future group.
Among the topics discussed were doping prevention, innovative communications and social media, youth athletic programmes and athletic events promoted by local clubs.
Today’s proceedings concluded with some of the participants presenting their pre-Forum individual displays, illustrating their ideas on ways to contribute to the development of athletics at local and national levels.
The Forum, now in its fifth edition, is due to continue tomorrow, starting with a guest interview with two-time Olympic gold medallist javelin thrower Andreas Thorkildsen of Norway.
The event is being held on the sidelines of the 2016 European Athletics Championships here in the Dutch capital.
By Daniel Etchells
Republished with permission from insidethegames.biz