New athletics youth development league gives Croydon Harriers hope

A new athletics youth development league has been proposed which will have regional groups and no promotion and relegation.

The proposal includes several teams in and around south west London and is due to take place as soon as permitted to return.

Croydon Harriers are one of the teams scheduled to take part in the competition which is split into two groups, one with five teams and one with six teams.

After the Harriers celebrated their centenary last year before the first national lockdown, they have been itching to get back onto the track.

Croydon Harriers’ coaches secretary Mike Fleet said: “This development league is a bit of light at the end of the tunnel.

“I am all for development as long as it does not clutter up anything that might evolve. We are so thin at the moment with everything that it might be that the established leagues don’t get going.

“I would say that it should be given the green light. Anything that we can get going as soon as Mr Covid flies away, the better it would be because kids are chomping at the bit.”

FRUSTRATION: Fleet has had to limit the Harriers numbers due to COVID restrictions

Fleet added that there is a sense of frustration as many of the young athletes have been unable to participate in training due to a limit on numbers.

He said: “I have had kids even not in the Harriers asking to join in training and I’ve had to say no because we are limited to numbers, so there is certainly a frustration out there.

“This youth development league is very encouraging news and it sounds very sensible so good luck to it.

“I would think that it’s definitely got possibilities, it is a local cluster and there is no promotion or relegation which I think is a good idea, that will give it more stability. The trouble we have had before is if you get promoted and suddenly you have to go to Edinburgh, and you think that’s nice, how do we get there?”

Fleet has been trying to keep children as engaged with athletics a possible, sending challenges round such as the sit-up challenge which can be done safely at home but is keeping children active.

He added: “Up until the last lockdown we did as much as the regulations allowed us to do at the time, so for example, our middle-distance runners have been out in the parks or the roads.

“I was doing high jumping and we were seeing how high they could swing their arms by using a football goal to measure it, as that is the world record height.

“I was running mini Olympic games for the young children of around nine-years-old every day.

“We have had to adapt. If you’re not flexible then you might as well stay at home and read a book.”

You can check out the Croydon Harriers here.

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