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South Central Club of the Year

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Phoenix Tri named Triathlon England South Central Club of the Year Based in Milton Keynes, Phoenix Tri MK have been named as Triathlon England Club of the Year for the South Central region because of the support they’ve offered members throughout 2021 to keep them engaged in swim, bike, run.

As a club specifically for those aged 8-18, their tagline is ‘finish lines not finish times’ with an inclusive ethos central to everything that they do. The nominations that the club received told of the inclusivity, but also the accessibility which members and their parents found through the club, their coaches and their sessions.

“For me the ethos and spirit within the sport is amazing and we’ve tried to push that out to the club,” said Stuart Sams, co-founder of the club.

“We have a bike loan scheme because the main demographic of our kids can’t afford a £600-£700 bike, so we source bikes off the internet, off Facebook and eBay, I service them and loan them out to the kids so they’ve all got a decent bike to compete and train on.”

Also speaking about the club’s bike loan scheme, Sams’ co-founder Crispin Watkins added: “Let’s face it, you’ve got kids coming to use from different economic backgrounds and the big major hurdle for most parents is forking out for a bike when a) their kid may grow out of it within a year or within six months they may say, ‘mum or dad triathlon’s not for me.’”

Watkins also oversees a lot of the coaching at the club and reflected on how the club caters on a wide variety of abilities within its sessions.

“We’ve found it so far, fairly easy to accommodate varying levels of ability,” he commented. “When someone comes along for the first time who we don’t know, they will be formally assessed from a swim teacher perspective in the pool.

“We don’t put ourselves forward as a swimming club, but we will take people who find that element quite difficult and build on it.

“We do use the term family and that can be taken in various ways, but it’s not elitist and we know all the kids and we know all the parents. That is never lost and because parents see that involvement and see that we’re prepared to go the extra mile, I think that’s why we’re able to retain a lot of our members.”

Another way the club retains members within the club is by supporting them in activator and coaches courses so that they can support younger members.

“We’ve been really good these past couple of years in getting our 15-16 year olds on British Triathlon courses,” Sams explained.

“We’ve had five this year complete their level one [coaching course] and they’re now active 16-17 year olds coaching within the club to their peers.

“Other things come along and it’s nice to give them something to keep them in the sport. We’ve found that it brings them out of their shells, gives them confidence, social skills and does a lot for their self-esteem. It’s a big part of their development. We’re not just about developing potentially great athletes, it’s about developing well-rounded individuals who will go out into the world.” 

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