The Cry for Sustainable Solutions - The Cork Track Crisis

March 27, 2024

In the heart of Cork Athletics, a profound concern echoes among its members, coaches, and officials. The extended closure of the Mardyke track has cast a shadow over the vibrant athletic community, raising significant challenges for meaningful athletic development and community engagement. Sinead, Secretary of CEASC (Cork East Athletics & Sporting Community) and Level 1 Coach at Midleton AC, alongside fellow committee and club members, sheds light on the ramifications of this closure and calls for sustainable solutions.

Yesterday, Midleton Juvenile AC embarked on a journey to Templemore, transporting a busload of eager athletes to prepare for the upcoming All Ireland Track and Field Championship. Carraig na bhFear followed suit, travelling to Clonmel for essential training sessions. These endeavors underscore the lengths to which clubs must now go to ensure their athletes' readiness, both physically and mentally. However, such expeditions come at a hefty cost, both financially and environmentally.

The financial burden is palpable, with each journey demanding substantial resources. Sinead highlights the staggering €1000 expense incurred for transportation and track hire. For clubs already managing tight budgets, such costs are unsustainable and pose a threat to their viability. Moreover, the environmental impact of these frequent travels contributes to the region's carbon footprint, exacerbating concerns about sustainability.

Yet, the repercussions extend beyond economics and ecology. The absence of a local training ground disrupts the fabric of community engagement. Training sessions serve as central meeting points where athletes, coaches, and parents converge, fostering a sense of belonging. Losing this hub diminishes not only athletic development but also the social cohesion vital for a thriving community.

Sinead emphasises the profound loss experienced by young athletes aged 9 to 11. These formative years are crucial for skill development and instilling a lifelong passion for athletics. Without accessible facilities, their growth and enthusiasm may falter, robbing them of invaluable opportunities for personal and athletic development.

The plight of Cork Athletics underscores a broader issue of infrastructure inadequacy. Sinead and fellow CEASC committee members advocate for self-sustaining facilities to promote resilient communities. These facilities not only provide a platform for athletic pursuits but also foster community and reduce dependency on external resources.

With the outdoor track season upon us, the implications of Mardyke's closure loom large. The absence of local competitions further compounds the challenges faced by clubs, jeopardising current memberships and deterring prospective athletes. The ripple effects of this setback threaten the vitality of Cork Athletics, echoing concerns shared by clubs across the region.

In the face of adversity, Sinead and her counterparts stand united in their resolve to address these challenges head-on. Their advocacy for sustainable solutions and community resilience reflects a commitment to safeguarding the future of Cork Athletics. It's a call to action for stakeholders, policymakers, and the wider community to come together in support of a vibrant and sustainable athletic ecosystem.

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