We have a big year ahead of us at Ryde Little Athletics:
· Ryde Council will carry out major works at Dunbar to improve the quality of our track
· We will lose access to the ground from November, and will move temporarily to Marsfield Park
· We will operate for the full season but start it early (on 31st August) to get as much time on Dunbar as possible
· We are introducing Team App as our primary communications tool
· Don’t forget your Active Kids vouchers before you register
· As ever, the club will need your support as a volunteer
Upgrade of Dunbar Park
The current surface at Dunbar Park leaves a lot to be desired with uneven sections and bare patches on both the circular and straight tracks. Ryde Council has decided to invest in a major upgrade over the summer and when it’s finished, our athletes will have a much better track surface to compete and train on. The investment council is making goes well beyond anything the club could have funded itself – equal to about 10 years’ worth of athlete registration fees.
The work will impact on us this season because we will lose access to Dunbar Park from 11 November, probably for the rest of the season. Ryde Council chose the dates after consulting the club, and the outcome is a compromise between getting the most time on the track and giving the new grass the best chance to grow.
Our plan for the season
The committee has worked hard with Ryde Council to minimise the disruption by developing an excellent plan that includes a temporary move to Marsfield Park. There will need to be a few compromises, and we will need extra support from families and friends of the club. But I am confident we will have a successful season.
There are two major parts to our plan:
1. We will squeeze as much into the time we have at Dunbar as we can. We’ll start the season early and remove some off-weeks, meaning we can have ten points weeks before Dunbar closes. We’ll have just one trial week on 31 August and our first points week on 7 September.
2. Ryde Council has provided us a new temporary home at Marsfield Park on Vimiera Road, once Dunbar closes. Council will mark out a track and give the club use of it each Saturday morning and four evenings a week. Our plan is to run six points weeks at Marsfield, making 16 in all, which is the same as last season. The committee has spent a lot of time planning a program for Marsfield, and we think we can run all events at Marsfield Park. We’ll need to have a modified program, and we will need to be flexible as we learn the best way to make use of our temporary home. We’ll need to be gone by 12pm sharp each Saturday to make way for cricket fixtures.
As our plans for the second part of the season develop we’ll keep you all informed. In the meantime the main thing to make note of is the condensed start to the season that has us with our first trial week at the end of August!
Our new communications tool – Team App
This year we’ll need more communications between the club and families than ever, so we have chosen Team App as our new tool. If you don’t already know Team App it gives us much better ability to reach you when we need to and to make sure the right information goes to the right families.
At collection day we will help you set up the app on your phones, but it’s available now for those who want to try it out.
Wet weather communications
One piece of news many parents are keen to get as soon as possible is whether we are going ahead when the weather isn’t great. We will announce this on Team App no later than 7.15. There’s no need to email or message us before then to find out! We will also update the website and Facebook, but Team App users will get the news first.
Our new results system
Another change this season we are changing our results system to the one provided by Timing Solutions, which is the company that makes our timing gates and provides the results service for most Little Athletics clubs in NSW. This will give us a more streamlined service that makes it easier for our volunteers. Athletes will still be able to see their results online, but the look and feel will be different.
Active Kids Vouchers
Don’t forget that many of our athletes are entitled to an Active Kids voucher from the NSW government, which gives you $100 per child towards the registration fee. If you plan to do this, please make sure you get your voucher number beforehand and enter it during the online Little Athletics NSW registration process. Registration opens August 1st. You will not be able to submit your voucher later.
Each Saturday we rely on about 100 parent volunteers on the track. This includes age managers and their assistants, the event helpers and the results team. We also rely on parents to help set up and pack away the equipment. We literally couldn’t run without you and in 2019-20 we will be more reliant on you than ever, so please think about ways you can help – even if you can’t do it every week.
Parents at the track
It’s a legal requirement that every athlete has a parent or guardian present at the track throughout the morning. You cannot leave your child at the track unaccompanied. If you cannot arrange for someone to be at the track then we can’t permit your child to participate at the club. If this is a
problem for you then please speak with someone at the club to see if there’s anything we can do to help – please do not just leave your child and hope for the best!
Upgrade to the Equipment Shed
Over winter a group of volunteers made some big improvements to the equipment shed. We’ve had a big clean out and installed new shelving and equipment containers that should make life easier for everyone involved with unpacking and packing every Saturday and for coaching. Many thanks to he team that carried out this work.
Why couldn’t Ryde Council do the upgrade over winter?
There will be a 5 to 6 week construction period, followed by 6 to 8 weeks for the grass to grow. Peak growing season is October to March and is very weather dependent. There were a few options Council discussed, but the one we have got is likely to have the least disruption and get the best results.
I think the grass looks good, why do they need to returf?
The green grass after rain hides the problems with the track. At the southern end and at the north-western corner there are drainage problems that cause bare patches that cannot be maintained and which are gradually getting worse. There are also bumpy sections on the straight tracks. There are three different types of grass on the oval that make maintenance difficult.
To make matters worse, the sprinkler system doesn’t reach all the areas it’s needed and is very old and currently not working at all. It needs to be replaced.
With new turf and the sprinkler system a new maintenance program can be adopted by council to keep the track in tiptop shape all of the time.
What other options were there during the shutdown period?
The options we considered were to shut down early, sharing with another club or hire another dedicated athletics ground.
Shutting down early seemed the worst option for everyone and we were determined not to do that.
Hornsby, Parramatta, Cherrybrook, North Rocks Carlingford and Inner West clubs all said they were open to having our athletes visit their club after Dunbar closes. It would have been impractical for the whole Ryde club to run a points week alongside them and all are a reasonable distance from parts of the Ryde area. Our athletes still have permission to visit these clubs, but we will leave it for individuals to do this if it’s their preference.
Ryde Council does not have another athletics track, so hiring another one (and the equipment) would have been expensive and meant a long journey each week.
When council offered us the Marsfield Park option we felt it was a much better fit for the majority of our club members.
Will Dunbar Park be ready for 2020/21?
At this stage we are confident that the work will be completed well in advance of next season. We will keep club members informed of any issues that emerge.
Will Marsfield weeks be points weeks? Will the athletes be able to set records?
We will try our best to offer as close to a normal schedule as possible in the six weeks we plan to use Marsfield. We will make these full points weeks that contribute towards the club championships.
However, athletes won’t be able to set club records as these can only be achieved at Dunbar Park and for consistency we will keep it that way.
Will there be training at Marsfield Park?
Yes, we will have use of Marsfield Park for evening training on Mondays to Thursdays.
Will there be a discount on the fees?
We have been very lucky that the council has provided us a temporary field and as a result we are not going to lose any points weeks. At the same time, our costs will be the same as every other year (noting that a reasonable portion of the fees goes to LANSW and Council will charge us for hiring both grounds). As a community club that runs on a tight budget we did not feel we could offer lower fees this year, despite there being some disruption. We’re confident parents will understand this and look forward to the great new surface we will have at the end of the work.
Although we have not set the fees for 2020/21 yet, the club is not being asked to contribute to the cost of the Dunbar work and will not have additional expenses to pass on.
Can I just register for the first part of the season?
No, we will take registrations for the full season as usual.