A Brief Overview of AO
The sport governing body for track and field in Canada, now called Athletics Canada, was established in 1889 and is one of the oldest affiliated bodies with the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), fourth only to Great Britain (1880), New Zealand (1887), and the USA (1888). Athletics Ontario (formerly the Ontario Track and Field Association) is a branch of Athletics Canada.
Until 1974, Ontario was split into three governing bodies, Southwestern, Northwestern, and Central. However, there was an interest in establishing a more efficient means of developing the sport while maintaining a system which would still enable regions to have a voice regarding major decisions in the province. As a result a new provincial association, composed of six newly defined regions was formed in 1974, and in October 1977 the Ontario Track and Field Association became an incorporated body.
Today the regions of AO have been assimilated and, while they continue to operate locally and regionally, they no longer have direct representation on the Board of Directors. The AO President, Vice President and several others with specific portfolios, representing various facets of the sport, sit on the Provincial Board of Directors.
Every club may be represented at the AO Annual General Meeting and may vote if they have 5 members. A copy of the By-Laws of the OTFA is available on request, along with the Association Policy and Procedures Handbook. The main objectives of Athletics Ontario are:
- promote and encourage participation from the grass roots level through to the very highest level of proficiency
- assist coaches, officials and club executives in fulfilling their goals
- establish an authority which can voice the concerns and desires of members to the appropriate bodies
Track and Field Programs
AO sponsors programs for athletes from the beginner to the Olympian. The range of activities includes:
- Developmental competition to encourage participation at the grass roots level
- Developmental camps and clinics (offered by regions)
- Developmental programs like Fun in Athletics and Run, Jump and Throw
- Step Up to Excellence
- Summer invitationals and all comers meets
- Championships for the indoor season, outdoor season and cross country
- The Ontario Summer Games
- Access to travel and training camp grants
- Assistance for Ontario Team travel
- Accident insurance
Five levels are currently recognized for track and field coaches. Technical courses at Levels I, II and III are now available to any coach. Following successful completion of Technical Courses, coaches may apply for Practical Certification, which carries a coaching experience requirement. Coaches may concurrently take Theory Certification courses, which are sport-general courses administered by the Ministry Health Promotion.
Coaches registered with AO receive benefits including reduced fees for services, access to grants, reduced fees for courses and voting privileges.
An Accreditation program, consisting of five grades, is also available to officials. Officials achieve different grade levels by passing examinations, attending seminars and working under supervision at a prescribed number of competitions. Officials may work in a host of disciplines including Starter, Umpire, Throws Judge and many others. Officials who are members of AO also receive benefits including reduced fees, an Officials bulletin and assistance for travel to selected competitions.