1 March 2023
“Since we started the Raise the Bar programme, we’ve had 120 12- to 16-year-olds attend the gym to do the free 6-week block,” Matthew explained. “From that, our Teens Weightlifting Academy came about and we had about 30 or 40 children that progressed to there, and now about 25.
“We put effort into our youngsters because they’re the future of our club. The next step for us is to recruit more volunteers and coaches to be able to cater for the number of lifters we now have and create tiered coaching, which is an exciting prospect for what’s to come.”
The Raise the Bar programme has been hugely positive in the club’s environment since it started there.
“Raise the Bar has been such a successful programme for the club,” Matthew continued, “and it’s been so popular that we’re now collaborating with the college in which we’re based to expand the gym to over 200m sq.
“It’s allowed us to train young people, progress our lifters (with one becoming a qualified coach), recruit new staff, raise the profile of our club and ultimately help the local community. It’s had a positive effect on everything, really!”
Matthew went on to explain how the programme has supported the club in strengthening its core of lifters.
“We’ve always had good lifters here, but not the volume of them we have now – most of whom have come up through Raise the Bar, so it’s really helped us grow our youth group. And of that group, we definitely have a few that could be really good and then go onto pathways when they’re older.
“We’ve allowed them to compete in our own events without a fee for them to be able to experience a competitive environment, but our aim now is to take our lifters to the Welsh Open at Strength Academy Wales, coming up in May!”
Matthew concluded by stating the importance of weightlifting in providing opportunity for physical activity for younger people.
“Not everyone is suited for team sports, and there aren’t that many individual sports; you have gymnastics, swimming and sports like those which can be really intense in terms of training and could require you to start really young.
“But weightlifting has a mixture of all members of the community and it gives all young people an opportunity to mix, grow and develop while building their confidence – I think this is especially true and vital for our young female athletes,” he concluded.