Cross country running in Merseyside primary schools is booming, but more volunteers are needed to keep races going.
Thanks to the work of dedicated members of the community, national champions have been discovered at this level.
Amidst the relentless pressures of high living costs and health crises it’s easy for small, crucial parts of children’s welfare to be lost in the chaos.
The Merseyside Primary Schools Cross Country Association is a volunteer-led team that organises race meets for groups of the five boroughs of Merseyside with two main goals; to give Liverpool youngsters a sporting chance and finding the best to represent Merseyside on a national races.
Andrew Meadows is a social care worker, and one of the group of volunteers who help coordinate events such as the county championships. MerseySportLive spoke with Meadows at the recent county championship event in Birkenhead Park about the importance of volunteers on race days, he said: “Volunteers are vital, not just in the organising of events, but every school needs a member of staff who is willing to give their time and effort to go above and beyond in supporting their children to have these additional activities.”
“Without a successor, schools can stop attending events when the person who brings children to cross country races retires or moves on.”
“However, we’re always optimistic about what the future holds. Nothing should stay the same to stay relevant there needs to be new blood and ideas.”
The social care worker has been volunteering for the Wirral Cross Country Association since 2004, alongside several others including founders Steve Dakin and Mark Roberts who started the organisation in 1987. The group believes the impact their work has is worth the time: “Steve, Mark and myself give our time and effort for free as we know how much of an impact it has.”
“We have built a sizeable and well-oiled machine. To see it fail or stop would be sad, and it’s something none of us want, so yes, one day the reins will need to be handed over to someone who can take it forward.”
Speaking on the event, Meadows said: “We’ve got four teams here today; Liverpool, Wirral, Sefton, and Knowsley. We’re still working on getting St. Helens down but we’re making progress.
“Each school pays £30 for every year of pupils they have racing, which helps to pay for the medals we give out and other costs, apart from that we’re self-funded.”
The association also benefits from contributions from Wirral Athletic Club in the form of additional helpers and insurance, as well as Wirral Cricket Club and council, Meadows added: “The Wirral cricket grounds were well kept for today, and graciously donated to allow this event to happen.”
MerseySportLive also spoke to Liverpool Primary Schools cross country and athletics coordinator, Tony Scanlon about the importance of sports such as cross country to their fitness and wellbeing.