The Ballina Athletic Club will host a post primary schools cross country challenge for the 12 schools in its surrounding area on Wednesday week, October 8. The event will take place in Belleek, Ballina, and it is hoped it will give all participants the opportunity to discover a talent for cross country running. The primary aim of this event is to promote and support participation in athletics among post-primary pupils. Ballina Athletic Club has a comprehensive underage development structure with the expertise of dedicated and knowledgeable coaches who are immersed in athletics. However the club has noticed a decline in recent years in the participation levels among teenagers and young adults, and rather than accepting this, it is determined to get teenagers back on track and bring the ‘X-Factor’ into cross-country running. It is a gateway discipline for so many other sports. This unique cross-country event promises to do just that with an exciting line up of shorter than usual cross-country races which will have all the teenagers vying for overall prizes for the pride and glory of their respective schools.
The club is very fortunate to have Ballina Beverages on board as event sponsor. It will be awarding a €500 sports bursary to the best overall girls’ school and best overall boys’ school on the day. This will be determined by the collective team finishing positions in the boys’ and girls’ categories. The purpose of the sports bursary is specifically to develop an athletics programme in the successful schools. It is hoped that the benefit of the sports bursaries should be two-fold. It should increase interest and participation in athletics at school level and also greatly assist in the development of sport in the successful schools. It is also hoped that the awarding of a bursary will be an added incentive to schools to prepare and participate in the event in a spirit of friendly rivalry.
The best overall schools will also be presented with perpetual memorial shields sponsored by Collins Plastics Ballina. Medals will be awarded to the first three individuals and first three teams in each race. The number of runners per team is unlimited with the first four to score.
The Ballina Athletic Club offers a comprehensive coaching structure spanning from recreational running to a full programme of track and field events. Juvenile training is held on Monday and Wednesday evenings between 7pm and 8pm at Belleek, Ballina, and can be the pathway to a lifetime of running - both recreational and competitive.