19 January 2010
Official Line by Cherry Alexander as seen in Athletics Weekly magazine
Regular readers of Athletics Weekly will have seen in last weeks edition the 2010 fixture calendar inserted within the pages. A visual presentation of just a section of our sport – but what a superb menu of athletics it portrays.
However as we all know the fixture calendar is a tightrope walk, a fine balancing act which seeks to provide a date-based home for hundreds of events, providing a 12 month storyline to our sport.
This glossy A2 size poster is the culmination of many weeks graft led by UKA and supported by countless competition providers, administrators and volunteers across our sport, the design and printing of which is a mere 1% of the entire project.
Fixture meetings are held twice a year (January and October) with a series of further consultation meetings in April) and all competition providers are invited to attend. Following a successful pilot of permitting competitions in 2009 we now have a clear hierarchy of events which enables us to work from the top level five (major championships) down to level one events which incorporate local level open meetings and county championships.
All competition providers have bought into permitting as a progressive move forward and in doing so each year we will lessen fixture clashes and improve the structure of the season. Eventually this will mean no competition can be added to the sports calendar without a permit from UKA or the Home Countries.
In addition to the competition hierarchy all providers agree working principals for the fixture process, the main one of which is that all different types of competitors should be able to access individual, team, event specific and championship competitive opportunities.
Many a time I have chaired these meetings filled with individuals tasked by their competitions to achieve the best possible date for their event. No-one wants to be the one to give up their preferred date, but the art of compromise is well trodden in these circles, and I am so admiring of those who will look at the ‘big picture’ of the entire season and change their plans for the good of the athlete, club and coach. The McCain Young Athletes League are one such body who recently made forward-thinking changes, recognising the burden and battleground that the U17 age group had become and reducing their fixtures accordingly.
These are the people who realise that the season needs to work for the entire sport, with events spaced accordingly for the differing levels of competitor. It is not always the easiest task – at the end of the day the year will only ever be 52 weeks, and with certain events such as major championships set years in advance these have to be worked back from. We cannot continue to add fixtures to the calendar without taking some out, but the process is becoming more streamlined each time.
The introduction of permitting will eventually help us eradicate fixture clashes, but for now I have been delighted in the way competition providers who attend the meetings chose to work in harmony instead of working in silos. For 2011 we will see further developments including all Home Country athletics championships taking place on the same weekend and being closed events, and a number of age group championships repositioned following input from coaches.