North Belfast Harriers (NBH) has become the first Belfast-based athletics club and just the fifth club across all sports to acquire Belfast City Council’s Clubmark Gold standard. The club has also secured a £2,000 Sported Grant to improve its services for special needs children.
The Clubmark accreditation has three levels (Gold, Silver and Bronze) and is recommended by Sport NI for all clubs involved in training juvenile athletes. It involves a rigorous assessment process in areas like effective management, safety in sport, and quality coaching and competition. The Gold standard is the highest level of Clubmark, and includes additional aspects such as a “long term athlete development” (LTAD) approach to training juveniles, disability awareness, and community inclusion. Clubs reaching the standard submit to ongoing evaluation through regular monitoring visits and annual reviews.
NBH’s work with special needs children has also received a welcome boost as the club has been awarded a £2,000 Sported Grant through that programme’s small grants scheme. The grant will support NBH’s outreach programme for special needs children. The objective of NBH’s outreach programme is to build the confidence and esteem of children in familiar surroundings and then to accommodate and integrate them into the club structure.
“We are delighted that the club has earned Clubmark Gold, as well as secured funding to develop our work with special needs children,” says NBH chairperson Matt Shields. “Both awards reflect tremendous work by volunteers in the club. We are proud of our tradition of inclusivity, high standards, and having fun. We hope that on the strength of these awards, we can reach out to even more people in the community and introduce them to athletics and a healthy lifestyle.”
Photo: Junior athletes after taking part in a track meeting in Bangor.