North Belfast Harriers is the first athletics club to attain Athletics Northern Ireland’s ‘Club Mark’ accreditation.
‘Club Mark’ aims to identify, develop, accredit and recognise high quality sports junior clubs and their contribution to the development of sport in Northern Ireland. The three main areas which are categorised and focused on are: Effective Management, Quality Coaching and Competition and Safety in Sport. City of Lisburn Athletics Club also achieved the mark.
Vicki Kennedy, Athletics NI Coaching & Club Development Manager congratulated the clubs and thanked Belfast City Council Council for assistance with North Belfast Harriers and Newtownabbey Council with assistance with Newtownabbey Racers, who are in the process of being accredited.
“Athletics Northern Ireland are now in a position to roll this scheme out to Athletic Clubs who are interested and have junior sections within their clubs. McCain Athletic Club Network clubs are encouraged to participate,” she added.
North Belfast Harriers (NBH) chairman Matt Shields commented: “We owe a big thanks to junior coach Claire McCorry who prepared the Club Mark application through Belfast City Council. The Council and Armetus, the community schools charity, have been key partners in the creation of our current ongoing development plans and this is one further step in that plan." NBH has seen an increase in membership lately, with runners, from first time 10 year olds to established local runners, showing up at weekly training sessions.
Stephen Scullion, one of the UK's top distance runners and North Belfast Harrier says: “There's no doubt the club is on the up. Having been based in London for a while, I was very impressed when I saw firsthand, how hard our club has been working to improve their runners and continue to offer help for people of all ages and ability. I am looking forward to helping the club out further – and hopefully, other clubs in Northern Ireland can follow our example and our results as a country will improve."
Matt believes the recent successes are due, in no small part, to the fact that the harriers have their own clubhouse (with changing, showering, meeting facilities), are actively involved in community work (they organise Park Run) and have state of the art track facilities at their disposal in north Belfast. Visit www.niathletics.org for more information.