Worksop Harriers target a place of their own in 2022 to aid club growth
Officials behind the running of Worksop Harriers admit they are itching to find the club a permanent home in 2022.
The club currently train on roads around the town during winter time and rent a small facility at Worksop College during the summer months.
But the club management say not having a place to call their home is hampering their progress following some encouraging progress this year.
Worksop team captain Tom Shaw said: “What is frustrating for us is that we used to have two running tracks with athletics facilities in Worksop.
“When they tore down Valley Comprehensive and Portland School all those tracks and facilities were lost and never replaced
“For many years now we have been trying to secure a home for the Harriers.
“It is frustrating as the Worksop College facility is not a full athletics facility and because we rent it it limits how many training sessions we can put on.
“With our own facilities it would open up a lot more ability to train one-to-one or smaller groups for those with specific training requirements.
“The athletic facilities are also limited, there is no hammer cage so it limits what activities can be done.
“As a club we want progress on securing a piece of land in 2022.
“We have being looking for a suitable site for an athletics track for many years and continue to work with the local Council, and currently Worksop College, to see if there is an opportunity to develop an athletics facility on the College site.
"Worksop College is perfectly situated for such a facility, with easy access into clumber park, for distance runners to enjoy the countryside, and with close access to other local schools, as well as Worksop College, to encourage students to take up the healthy and wide ranging sport of track and field athletics at an early age.
"Major funding will be required to build this top facility for our district, but nothing can happen until a ten acre site has been identified and secured and that is where the Harriers need help and support.
"Such a facility will benefit six generations, three that are here now and three that are not yet born.”
And Shaw, who recently won a Leader of the Year at the East Midlands England Athletic Regional awards, also fears it will lead to promising athletes being lost to Worksop.
“We have got a really capable team, but all that happens is they have to start travelling to Sheffield and Nottingham to train on a daily basis,” he added.
“Inevitably you lose these people because they either move away and start to wear other clubs' vests and not Worksop.
“They can also decide that it is just too much hassle to spend 7-8 hours travelling a week and drop out of the sport.
“We are trying to secure a proper home and not just rented space, where we can have a clubhouse and build our own facilities.
“It is holding us back as to what we can do. We have lots of members and we produce success, but we are being hamstrung by our inability to develop as a club.”
It has become all the more frustrating for the Harriers after seeing their membership base increase during 2021 following their excellent work in engaging people during the previous lockdowns.
It saw the club organise their own virtual races to help keep people fit and motivated - a move that Shaw believes helped draw people into the club.
“From a club point of view we’re probably in a better position now than before the pandemic,” he added.
“When there was uncertainty about what we could do and when and where we could train, we introduced virtual races and training.
“They were not official races but it was something you could do in your own time and that got a lot of interest and helped with motivation.
“We saw numbers grow. In a normal year in January/February time we have a local cross country season, which didn't happen.
“So we set up a virtual season where there would be a new course every two weeks. People did it on their own steam and we saw people enjoy it and you would see your friend out on the run.
“It kept some social elements going. People have noticed us doing it and it has brought more people into the club.
“Numbers have grown and it has helped us put more focus into structured training for those who are keen to get faster and those who haven’t done structured training before.
“We want to continue to grow. The more we grow, the bigger the range of people that we get at the club.”
COVID permitting attention will soon turn to the upcoming Nottinghamshire Cross-Country Championships.
It is an event that the club hope to impress in with Shaw targeting medals for the club.
“We have the cross-country county championships in February in Mansfield and we are hoping to do well in that and win one of the medals,” he added.
“It is one of our first club races of the year and we are looking forward to it.
“Everyone wears their club colours and you get to see the same faces from other races.”
Visit the club’s facebook page for more information on the club and how you can get involved.