coaching crisis

Eastbourne Rovers Athletics Club are struggling to help create an Olympic legacy as they face problems accommodating the influx of interest generated by the London 2012 Games due to a lack of qualified coaches.

The club, which has been established for more than 100 years, has been forced to turn away eager new members as they experience a shortage of people willing to volunteer themselves as athletics coaches.

The success of British athletes, like Jessica Ennis and Mo Farah at the Olympics earlier this month has, as the organisers wished, inspired people to pick up their trainers and get actively involved with grass-roots sport.

However, at a time when local clubs should be able to capitalise on this spike in interest, Eastbourne Rovers are unwillingly having to add names to an ever-growing waiting list as they continue their search for new coaches.

Coaching coordinator Sue Keen said, “This is an on-going problem. We’ve had loads of people come to us after the Olympics, probably around 60 people wishing to sign up. A lot of them are young but the ages have ranged from 15 to 44, so there’s a nice range.

“Ideally we’d have 15 members per coach but it all depends on age. With the younger members, it’s still a bit of fun for them but the older ones have competitions to prepare for. We will accommodate them all in some way or another but it is a problem.

“It’s good for the club to have the interest but not good for us coaches who just can’t handle all the demand. Recently we have had a few people express an interest in becoming a coach but we have yet to send them off for the necessary CRB checks and courses, but hopefully they will help us out a little bit.”

Eastbourne Rovers currently have six qualified coaches plus a handful of other volunteers who are hoping to complete all of the necessary courses needed to become a qualified coach. While the club cover the costs of the qualification process, the job itself is unpaid.

Sue said, “I don’t think a lot of people understand that we are all volunteers here. We are just looking for people who are happy to give up their time to, not only do the actual coaching, but take the time to go on the courses and get the qualifications first.”

The grass roots reality is in stark contrast to the wishes of Sebastian Coe, who was the chair of the London 2012 Organising Committee.

He said recently, “Millions will have been inspired by what they have witnessed over the summer and I hope this creates opportunities in every community for people to join in their local sports clubs.”

While David Moorcroft, a former 5,000metre champion and now director of sport at the Join In initiative, added, “It is a great opportunity to harness the enthusiasm generated by the Games, for sport and for volunteering, and channel it through local sports clubs - which is where every great champion starts out.”

The club is based at Eastbourne Sports Park and can boast a wide range of facilities, including a 6-lane floodlit all-weather running track, all the necessary equipment for field athletic events and fully-equipped changing rooms and showers.

For more information on becoming a coach contact Sue Keen at suekeensport@hotmail.com or visit the club’s website at www.eastbourneroversac.co.uk.