The purpose of this resource is to assist people in the initial stages of getting a club organized in their community. It is not intended to cover all areas that could affect clubs. Club officials are encouraged to contact the Athletics Ontario (AO) office if they require information not covered here.
Before a track club is formed one important question should be addressed: who will the club be serving? A number of different types of clubs exist in Ontario, including:
- All around Track and Field clubs, including Cross Country, Road Racing and Race walking
- Track and Field Only
- Road Racing Only
- Track Only (all track, distance only, sprints only, etc.)
- Field Only (jumps only, throws only)
- Masters Ages Only (30 years of age and over)
- Athletes with Disabilities
Some clubs accept membership only from adults, some cater to younger athletes. There are clubs that are primarily interested in developing athletes to national or international levels, while other clubs exist solely for the recreational interests of its members.
Obviously the type of club to be formed will primarily depend on the interests of those who will be doing the coaching. How many coaches will be involved? What is their commitment in terms of time? What events do they want to coach? What type of athletes do they want to work with?
After these considerations have been dealt with it is time to establish an executive and to name committee chairpersons. The club executive usually consists of a President, Vice-President, Secretary and Treasurer.
It is best initially to appoint Directors and Chairpersons. After the club is established elections should be held annually to determine the members of the executive. It is wise to hold meetings on a regular basis. Board members and Committee Chairpersons who are not active should be replaced. Most clubs in Ontario have a Constitution which outlines their philosophy and general policies.
When starting a club it is not initially essential to have certified coaches. The main ingredient for success at this stage is for the coaches to be enthusiastic and willing to learn. In many cases the personal experience of former athletes who wish to offer their services as coaches can be called upon to get a program started. Once the club begins to develop, it is advisable for the coaches to proceed with their certification. At this point the AO office can be contacted for details with regard to the proper procedure and availability of courses. Click here for information on the NCCP Coaching Program. Click here for a list of Current NCCP Course Offerings.
Coaches are also advised to register with AO so that they can be kept up to speed on all developments relating to coaching and be fully insured against liability. Many clubs now pay the registration fee on behalf of their coaches.
The first step in fundraising is to find out from the local recreational department, the various service clubs and the large businesses in the community if they will support a club in the area. It could be that they will give a one-time only donation to get the club started, or they may provide some funding over a period of time. A prepared submission is superior to a verbal discussion as ultimately a written statement will be requested.
Most of the better organized clubs have their own fundraising projects, such as raffles, runathons, dances, competitions and bingos. Many companies wanting to organize road races to help promote their products seek help in the technical aspects of the race from the local track club and will either pay a flat fee or will offer the entry fees in return.
Affiliation/Registration with AO
At the beginning of each year the club should send a completed club affiliation form along with the payment of the appropriate fee to Athletics Ontario. Affiliated clubs receive voting privileges at the AO Annual General Meeting (provided they have 5 or more registered athletes) and are given the right to enter athletes in competitions under the club name. Additional privileges include grants to offset travel expenses of athletes attending national championships and grants for coaches’ training.
Any athlete wishing to compete in provincial, national or international championships or be considered for training camp funding must register with AO through an affiliated club. Membership in the AO automatically includes membership with Athletics Canada. Persons wishing to compete only on a non-championship basis in road races may take out a non-competitive membership.
Membership in AO is based on the calendar year. In addition to the aforementioned competitive membership there are currently other types of memberships offered to athletes:
Unattached Membership: Entitlement to entry into all sanctioned competitions including Championships, Trials and Games Competitions. Affiliation with club not required.
Registration application forms are provided at the beginning of December to all club registrars and are also available at: https://athleticsontario.ca/registration/
Please click here to review the Club Affiliation Checklist: Checklist
AO Drug Use and Doping Control Policy
AO is unequivocally opposed to the use of any banned substances or methods in contravention of the rules of the Provincial, National (Athletics Canada) and/or International Sports Federations (IAAF), the International Olympic Committee, and other recognized Sport Organizations (OFSAA and CIS).
AO is unequivocally opposed to any encouragement of the use of such substances and/or methods by individuals in positions of leadership in the sport (i.e. coaches, officials, athletic staff, medical practitioners, sport scientists, administrators, etc.) or by athletes themselves. The providing of, or administration of banned substances and/or methods to athletes is also forbidden. Click here: AO Drug Use and Doping Control Policy.
Club Membership Fee
A membership fee structure should be established, keeping in mind projected travel costs, club administration expenses and the AO membership fees. A number of clubs are paying their coaches honoraria for their services and have increased membership fees to subsidize this expense.
A good fundraising programme usually means relatively low membership fees. All athletes in the club should be required to participate in fundraising activities.
Facilities & Equipment
Areas to look at for a club are an outdoor location and a school gymnasium for indoor (winter) use. Usually a club organizer will have to see the local Parks and Recreation Department about use of available facilities. He or she should be prepared with a written brief about club objectives and why the club needs both of the above as well as basic equipment. Remember, facilities should be obtained for the lowest cost, or better still for FREE!! If you’re lucky your club will have access to an indoor track. However, a great many athletes past and present, have reached international status without having an indoor track on which to train.
AO, through its clubs, offers a wide range of competitions in various age groups. One sign of organizational maturity in a club is its ability to stage a provincial championship. Conducting such a competition requires a great deal of work on the part of the club, but the rewards of club members and friends working together and the revenue generated for the club make it well worth the effort. Of course it is important for clubs to stage other levels of competition as well. Interested clubs should contact the AO office concerning sanctioning procedures if they wish to stage a competition. Without the clubs’ support there would be no provincial competition programme.
AO has funds allocated to support high-level junior and senior athletes in their travel to national championships staged outside the province. Details concerning selection criteria are provided in the AO Web site.
Structure of Athletics Ontario
The AO Chair, Vice Chair and several others 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 AO is available upon request, along with the Association Policy and Procedures Handbook. Click here for a look at the AO Structure and Staff Members.