Friday, 26 October 2012

Sported. Charity- Speech from Rebecca Marquess

Rebecca Marquess is a 15 year old athlete from North Belfast Harriers. At the recent launch of the charity Sported., Rebecca delivered a fantastic speech to tell everyone how taking part in athletics and being a member of a club has benefited her life, and has also had a positive impact on her family.

Sported. works with community sport groups and clubs to help them build capacity and improve management so they can sustain their activities. If you think your club could benefit from a mentor, visit their website

My name is Rebecca Marquess I am 15 years old and I am a member of North Belfast Harriers.

When I was 11 years old in primary 7 at Our Lady of Lourdes Primary School I was selected for the school Cross Country team. After I had finished second in the North Belfast schools race in Grove Playing Fields I was approached by the President of Athletics Northern Ireland, a friend and former work colleague of my father, who advised me I should join a running club. When I returned home I visited the Athletics Northern Ireland website to see if there were any local clubs I could contact. I discovered that there was a club located not far from where I lived and then contacted the junior coach Jimmy Nolan who invited me over to Mary Peters Track to train with the club. I found the club to be very welcoming and the coaches and athletes friendly and decided to become a member.

North Belfast is a club that was established 116 years ago based in North Belfast, that coaches all children irrespective of age, ability, race, gender, ethnicity, religious belief, sexuality or social/economic status. We have recently achieved gold Clubmark status which amongst other policies shows the clubs dedication to child protection and athlete welfare. All of the coaches are qualified through UK Athletics and have received the appropriate training.

When I joined North Belfast Harriers there was one junior coach and approximately 10 athletes training at Mary Peters Track. Currently there are 7 coaches and up to 60 or 70 athletes training at 3 venues – Girls Model Running Track, Boys Model Running Track and Jordanstown University. Our numbers are still growing and we need more coaches. I am going to attend the Athletics Leader coaching course next month when I turn 16 so I can coach under the supervision of a qualified coach.

I like being a member of the club because I have made friends at the club and also from other clubs we compete against. The training is good for my health and also for my Physical Education GCSE. Apart from running I have learned how to warm up and cool down properly and we have fundamental movement and core strength sessions.

Joining the club hasn’t just benefited me. When I joined the club my father stood watching on the sidelines but has now completed the Coaching Assistant and Athletics Coach courses and now coaches his own group of around 20 secondary school athletes. In addition to this my younger brother joined the club and has been quite successful in races. He won his race one Saturday at Victoria Park.

I hope that North Belfast Harriers continues to grow as it gives the children of North Belfast a club to be a part of. Many areas of North Belfast are deprived and have high levels of unemployment and any grants and funding means we don’t have to burden families with membership fees and clothing costs.