Taking top honours with a winning club culture
The Mackay Athletics Club is on a serious winning streak.
In 2017, after 10 years of dealing with the familiar community club challenges and lobbying for updated track and field facilities, local, state and federal governments finally said yes.
A brand new international standard facility with synthetic track, first class athletic facilities and adjacent swimming centre opened in March 2019, and since then membership has doubled.
Now the club is the winner of a $1000 Good Sports prize for upgrading its accreditation to the highest rating – Level 3 – with comprehensive alcohol management and fundraising policies.
Events coordinator and former long-term president James Grech said the club had embraced the Good Sports program since 2011, starting at the entry level and progressing ever since.
The club had been drawn to Good Sports by the need for a coherent set of policies and procedures that benefited members in accordance with its duty of care. Instead of starting from scratch, Good Sports already had a program up and running that the Mackay Athletics Club was able to tap straight into.
To achieve their latest leap to the top of the accreditation table they had help from the local Good Sports officer.
“She guided us through the application process and what we needed to do, and pointed out the online Good Sports resources for clubs, which we find absolutely fantastic,” James said.
“Knowing we can go in there [to the Good Sports website] on a multitude of subjects and get access to pre-written policies, fact sheets, posters and that type of thing that we can print out or place into our own publications is good.”
Because facilities and equipment aren’t such a pressing issue, the club is putting its $1000 to good use in a way that will not only benefit its own members and officials, but also the wider community.
It plans a training session on mental health issues that will help club volunteers and members of the Mackay community to look out for signs that people are struggling with mental health issues, and to give them skills to help.
Because athletics is not a team sport, much of the social aspect other sports clubs enjoy is missing. People compete individually, although the club works hard to ensure club days are about participation instead of winning.
“We just want to make sure that we’re aware of the signs to look for, so that we can at least have a chat, or if we need a referral or something like that.
“I would like to have our key volunteers [prepared], to skill them with what do we do in a situation, what do we look for, how to help, that kind of thing.”
As part of the accreditation process, the Mackay Athletics Club also embraced Good Sports healthy eating principles and now only provides chilled water and free fresh fruit supplied by a local grocer.
This also eliminates extra work for volunteers who previously staffed a canteen that made little money, sold unhealthy food and was never a main focus.
“We were able to eliminate the selling of soft drinks and anything else… so we’re not focusing on the sale of canteen goods, that’s not the reason why we’re here,” James said.
“We’re focused on providing participation in a great sport.”