News & Updates

4 November 2020 • Community

Club Connect set to inspire and engage

‘Innovation in Athletics’ will form the heartbeat of the 2020 Club Connect Conference with the purpose of inspiring and engaging the club community to provide fresh ideas to energise the sport.

The annual event, which is open to members of all 170 Athletics NZ clubs, will take place at Bruce Pulman Park in Auckland on Sunday 8 November, the day after the New Zealand Road Race Championships.

Athletics NZ Club Development Lead Mariah Ririnui says this year’s event has taken on an ‘Innovation in Athletics’ theme after feedback received by the national governing body.

“The theme emerged as part of our team’s experiences out in the community,” Mariah explains.

“We were hearing the challenges that clubs and club leaders were facing and we wanted to bring people together and get them to think differently.

“We are a traditional sport so it is easy to do the same things over and over. With this conference, we wanted to try something a little different and get people to think outside of the square.”

The conference, which runs from 10am to 3pm, is free for members, volunteers, helpers and coaches of all clubs to attend and will be kick-started with an introductory speech from Athletics NZ CEO Peter Pfitzinger.

This will then be followed by a 90-minute facilitative ‘Future in Athletics’ workshop which will be overseen by Megan Thorn, the managing director of Exult, a company which provides professional development for not-for-profit organisations.

Embedded within the workshops will be six community presenters, including a talk from Athletics NZ Coach Development Leader Kirsten Hellier in which the focus will be on life as an innovative coach and some of the training methods she has adopted with her athletes with further examples from the Athletics NZ high performance throws team.

Another of the community presenters on show will be Athletics Waikato Bay of Plenty development advisor Louise Young, the focus of which will be on organising the Throw Like a Girl regional event. A full list of the six community presenters can be seen below.

“We hope the workshop will facilitate a lot of discussion between the club delegates,” Mariah adds.

“This year we will group them in sections – kids athletics, harrier clubs, centres etc – where we’ll hope for some good brainstorming and sharing of ideas.”

The day will also provide a presentation by Kirsten showcasing the new Athletics NZ coaching strategy.

The conference will also feature Athletics NZ aid stations in which delegates can meet the staff and board members to hear more about their work. The stations will be divided into various departments, including high performance, community, officials and events.

“The key elements to the Club Connect Conference will be the workshop on the morning while the afternoon is dominated by the opportunity to get to know Athletics NZ better,” Mariah says.

“I’m hoping that people attending the conference will go home inspired and with a few new ideas either from what they’ve learned from others in the community or what they have come up with as part of the brainstorming process. We hope it will facilitate and promote a lot of conversation and interaction from all the delegates.”

Clubs can register for the 2020 Club Connect Conference by clicking here

The conference is free for all athletics clubs to attend, including a complimentary lunch and light refreshments.

If you have any queries please contact our Club Development Lead Mariah Ririnui at

The six community presenters as part of the workshop:

Ruth Tuiraviravi (Bellevue Athletics Club)

Getting the right people on board to run your club, recruiting volunteers, building relationships with the people in your club

Dave Crewe (Ariki Athletics Club)

Organising the Kids Cross Country Series this winter, filling a gap in the region for children’s cross country

Quentin Harvey (Gisborne Harrier Club)

Evolving from a traditional harrier club to a trail event focused club, the success of their trail events series this winter

Simon Yarrow (Auckland City Athletics)

Leading the Central Auckland Hub project, building relationships between Auckland City Athletics Club and central Auckland children’s athletics clubs to support the transition of junior athletes to senior clubs

Louise Young (Athletics Waikato Bay of Plenty)

Organising the Throw Like a Girl regional event, providing opportunities for women and girls to get into throwing

Kirsten Hellier (Athletics New Zealand)

Being an innovative coach – some of the training methods she has used with athletes, and some examples from the Athletics NZ high performance throws team

For more information on the 2020 Club Connect Conference please click here