The Need for a Track
Sedgefield Harriers was successful in very quickly establishing itself as one of the largest and most prominent athletics clubs in County Durham, and has continued to be successful in attracting young athletes (aged 6-14).
However, it has increasingly struggled to retain older junior athletes and some coaches, with a number joining other local clubs that have better facilities. Members of all ages who stay with the club have to travel to facilities some distance away if they want to train on a track, necessitating the use of cars on a frequent basis.
Throughout its history, Sedgefield Harriers has delivered a pathway to sports participation for people of all ages and abilities in South East Durham. Along with the well-established coaching sessions for enthusiastic athletes, the club is committed to helping anyone who wants to lead a more active life.
This has involved the introduction of groups for beginners (e.g. ‘couch to 5K’) and Sedgefield Harriers has also played a significant role in introducing, and continuing to support, other local initiatives such as Sedgefield parkrun and Sedgefield junior parkrun. The club is firmly embedded in the local community and the region’s grass roots athletics scene, and is able to engage with an impressive number and variety of people through its activities and communications.
Sedgefield Harriers is part of an extensive network of clubs, running groups and other community groups in South East Durham, yet all are held back by the lack of track and field facilities. The NETPark project will serve all of these clubs and groups, providing a much needed base for talented athletes across East Durham.
It is clear that the track will plug a significant gap in County Durham’s sports provision and its development is supported by policies in the Neighbourhood Plan for Sedgefield (adopted in October 2019). There is also a much bigger picture in society of the urgent need to address the inactivity epidemic that is sweeping populations and causing endemic and long-term health issues for individuals and communities, with the inevitable impact on health services.
Not only will the new track at NETPark provide an essential base for Sedgefield Harriers and other athletics and sports groups, the arrival of the facility will send a powerful message to residents in South East Durham that County Durham is serious about sport, health, and physical activities, with all of the benefits that they also bring to mental health and wellbeing.