Some important points to note:
Firstly, please remember that all members of the Committee are volunteers. None of us have actively pursued this as a career opportunity. Most of us are putting much more time into our Committee roles than we are comfortable with. We are all parents too, and most of us get precious little time to watch our own kids during the course of the Little Athletics season because we are performing roles that help others. Overall the committee does a fantastic job, evidenced by the fact that our Centre is the success story of the Port Hunter Zone in terms of growing membership. However, like everyone, at times we make mistakes and struggle with insufficient resources which can cause delays. If you have a gripe about anything throughout the season the best thing to do is get involved, help out and make it better.
Secondly, our club meets generally take up to 2 hours, and even longer for some of the larger age groups. It is what it is. There is definitely some time spent waiting for events to start, access to equipment, results to be recorded etc. Ensure you are prepared for this and budget for between 2 & 3 hours at our club meets. Again, the best thing to do is get involved, help out and make it better.
At each meet we require in the order of 70 helpers. We have about 14 Committee members and well over 300 athletes. In fact we have record numbers this season so parent assistance is an absolute necessity. Please don’t be too concerned with this aspect of Little Athletics. There is little doubt you will make a mistake in this process. Everyone does. Just remember that this is Little Athletics and not the Olympics and it simply should not be so serious that parents, athletes or anyone else stresses about participating. As previously advised the Rutherford Little Athletics Centre recently folded directly due to lack of parent assistance. It is vital that we all get in and help out.
For those new to our Centre, the children undertake their events in age groups split between girls and boys. Eg U/6 Boys, U/6 Girls, U/7 Boys, U/7 Girls etc. Each age group requires at least one Age Marshal for the duration of each club meet. Some of the younger age groups require more than one Age Marshal. Eg Tots through U/8 inclusive require a minimum of two Age Marshals. Age Marshals assist the children and help co-ordinate the events that they undertake. They ensure the events program is followed and move their group from one event to the next and should ensure that all children are kept safe as there are dangers associated with athletics events. Last year for example we had a child hit in the head with a shot put, largely because the children in that age group who were not throwing the shot were not effectively kept behind the child who was throwing the shot.
Each age group is allocated a plastic bin that is carried around with that age group during the course of events. In that bin is a ring clip folder (Age Folder) and a clipboard (Results Folder). The Results Folder contains pre-printed sheets used by the Age Marshals to record the results for field events (results for track events are recorded by others at the track). The Age Folder contains all manner of information on the events program, how to conduct the events, how to measure etc. If you are new to Little Athletics or to our Centre, or if you are performing an Age Marshal duty for any particular age group then please take the time to look through this folder. It will likely put to rest many of the concerns you may have in helping out.
In past seasons Committee members have provided the Tots age groups with additional support at the start of each season. Unfortunately this season the Committee members are not available. Therefore some parents from within the Tots groups need to step up and get heavily involved. As a minimum we require four, and ideally six, Age Marshals for both the Tots Boys & Tots Girls. Parents who were involved with the Tots last season would be ideal candidates to share their knowledge. The Age Folders as detailed above are tailored to each age group and therefore those folders for the Tots provide information specific to running these age groups and organising their events. If a few parents get together and take the time to read the information then there will be no problem. The success of the Tots is absolutely up the parents this season, the same as for all other age groups.
This season we have formalised our processes and there is now the requirement that each family perform a a minimum Help Duty to Actual Attendance ratio of 20% throughout the course of the season in order for their children to qualify for awards at our end of season Presentation. IE If the kids in a family attend 10 nights throughout the season then the amount of Family Help required is two duties (20% x 10). Similarly if the kids in a family attend 25 nights throughout the season then the amount of Family Help required is five duties (20% x 25).
Parent helpers will be required to sign on for a duty, generally for the duration of each meet. Those signing on will need to provide the registration number of one of their children to help us identify the relevant family. There is provision within our results & statistics system to record all the duties performed by all parents and analyse the level of participation by each family. We plan to provide a regular update, perhaps on our web site, as to the level of participation of each family to ensure everyone has plenty of advance notice prior to the Presentation. Get in early and don’t leave it all until the end of the season.
With the exception of those parents who provide help in setting up and packing up all the equipment, all others performing parent duties will be required to wear a Hi-Viz vest that will be provided at the time and place of the helper signing on for their duty. Upon returning the vest, a Committee member will sign off on the duty to confirm that it was actually performed. It is the responsibility of the parent helper to ensure this countersigning occurs.
There will be four locations for signing on and off.
1. Canteen Area (Age Marshals, Canteen Helpers and BBQ Helpers as required)
2. Sprint Track Finish Line(Chief Timekeeper, Results Recorder, Starter, Places Judges )
3. Outside Track Finish Line(Chief Timekeeper, Results Recorder, Starter, Places Judges )
4. Gear Containers (Setup Helper , Packup Helper )
Whilst we definitely need these permanent helpers for the duration of each meet we will also still require some transient helpers for additional Place Judge and Timekeeping duties. Typically these transient helpers will be drawn from the parents of each age group as and when their children are performing on the sprint track and outside track. Performing these transient duties usually only takes about 5 or 10 minutes and does not count toward the minimum required 5 duties per family.
The sign on sheets also detail the minimum number of helpers we require for each duty. Related events and age groups will not proceed unless at least the minimum number of required helpers are signed on. The sign on sheets also contain provision for a maximum number of helpers to sign on each meet. These controls will help to ensure that we do not get too many or too few helpers for any one meet. While parents may share a duty we suggest this be restricted to sharing within a family as only the family signed on will be recognised as having performed the duty.
The parent assistance process is really not too demanding. Committee members are generally nearby to provide guidance or assistance if required. Typically those parents who do participate enjoy the whole Little Athletics experience much more than those who stand back, bored, kicking stones.