Sunday, March 26, 2023

Competing in Track & Field

When your son or daughter goes into school year 6 or 7 he or she will be able to compete in track & field competition during the track & field season, that normally begins sometime in April each year, as an Under 13 athlete.

For Under 13 children Blackheath & Bromley competes in two leagues, namely the Kent Young Athletes League and the UK Youth Development  League.

  • The Kent Young Athletes League is where the club competes against other Kent-based clubs at locations around the county. This is the league where the club tries to introduce young athletes to competitive athletics. Under 13 athletes may do scoring events where they gain points for the team based upon their performances, or they may do non-scoring events where they do not score any points for the team but still compete in exactly the same environment. The non-scoring events are limited by match - in other words there are only a few events that have non-scoring options, but none-the-less they are very useful in the introduction of newcomers to competitive athletics. There should be opportunities for most if not all Under 13 athletes.
  • The UK Youth Development League is a bit different wherein the club competes against other clubs in the South of the country. The level of competition is somewhat higher than the Kent Young Athletes League as the club competes in the Premier division of this National league. Blackheath & Bromley has a recent history of being exceptionally successful in this league. The club has not only won the Southern Premier division on many occasions, but has also gone on to win the National title where all the divisions around the country come together to compete in a National final. As such this league is regarded as the more senior league when talking about young athlete leagues.

The club has a policy of not selecting athletes to compete in the Kent Young Athletes team in their normal events, or indeed at all, if they compete regularly in the National Young Athletes League team. In this way the club gives as many athletes as possible a chance of competing during the track & field season.

From our perspective in the Bees Academy we would like as many children as possible to try competitive athletics. Whilst we do not insist potential athletes should join Blackheath & Bromley, it is our recommendation - children are however free to join whichever club they like. It is not necessary to leave the Bees Academy when joining Blackheath & Bromley, in fact quite a number of our more successful athletes have continued in the Bees whilst at the same time competing for the club. You will however need to join a club in order to compete in track & field.

The joining procedure for Blackheath & Bromley is as follows:

  • For pre-paid Bees Academy members complete a Blackheath & Bromley membership form and pay a £23 membership subscription - note this includes the club joining fee of £10, and the mandatory England Athletics registration fee of £13.

  • If your child participates in the Bees Academy on a Pay-as-you-Go basis, you will have to pay for a junior membership subscription at the rate indicated on the Blackheath & Bromley Membership form.
  • This payment approach is a concession for the first year only. When subs become due the following January, if the youngster is no longer in the Bees Academy, it is necessary to pay the normal junior subscription plus the England Athletics fee.

  • You will need to obtain a club vest for your child in which to compete. League rules for both the leagues mentioned above state  that athletes must wear a club vest. Vests can be purchased and your child's team manager (see below) who will be able to point you in the right direction.

If your child would like to compete this season then the club has team managers to look after team selection, team welfare and also the on-the-day logistics. The team managers for the 2016 Track & Field season are Karen Desborough for the girls and Paul Austridge for the boys - you will find their contact details later in this note. Team managers along with all club coaches are all DBS/CRB checked at an Enhanced level.

When competing in these two leagues the notion of strings come into play. There are normally two athletes chosen for each event and these are allocated the 'A' string or the 'B' string. It is upto the team manager to ensure the athlete that is the better of the two is designated the 'A' string. This is done in the leagues to ensure point scoring is done on a fair basis, i.e. 'A' strings compete against 'A' strings. Where the event allows 'A' and 'B' strings to compete at the same time, e.g. field events, the better of the two athletes in terms of the final result will automatically be given the 'A' string designation, irrespective of whether they started out with that designation. Again this is done to ensure a fair distribution of points. All sounds complicated but in reality it is not!

Travel to and from matches is either by coach or by parents. The club uses coaches where the match is an unreasonable distance for everyone to be expected to make their own way. There is a charge for going on the coach. The cost of coaches is probably the largest single item of expenditure for the club throughout the track & field season and it is necessary for the club to try and recoup some of the cost.

The events that are available are as follows:

  • Sprints - 75metres & 150 metres (girls); 100m and 200m (boys)
  • Hurdles - 70m (girls); 75m (boys)
  • Middle distance  - 600m (Kent), 800m (National), 1000m (Kent) & 1200m (National) (girls - these events vary dependent upon which league); 800m & 1500m (boys)
  • Jumps - Long & High
  • Throws - Shot, Discus and Javelin
  • Relays - 4 x 100m
  • 1200m walk (Kent only)

Fixtures for the forthcoming season can be found on the Blackheath & Bromley website or click here.

If you / your child is interested in competing for Blackheath & Bromley this season, then please contact the team managers in the first instance and let them know of your interest and that your child is a Bees Academy member. Contact details are as follows:

  • Karen Desborough (girls) - email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., 07786023877
  • Paul Austridge (boys) - email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., 07710 094846

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