Athletics News

Larkhall YMCA setting examples for clubs (all sizes) across Scotland . . .

Larkhall YMCA setting examples for clubs (all sizes) across Scotland . . .

Tuesday 30th April 2024

Larkhall YMCA Harriers club website

By Katy Barden

The theory of marginal gains was made famous by Dave Brailsford in his role as performance director of British Cycling.

A similar principle has been adopted by Larkhall YMCA Harriers in their bid to make the club more accessible and to reduce some of the barriers to taking part in sport.

Larkhall YMCA Harriers was founded in 1930. David Gracie – one of only two members to win a Scottish national senior title (the other being William Morrison over 880 yards in 1960) – is the club’s most distinguished member.

A former Scottish record holder, he represented Great Britain in the 400m hurdles at the1952 Olympic Games in Helsinki. According to the excellent history on the club’s website, ‘within four short years, (he) was to transform the profile of the club within the Scottish athletics community.’

While Larkhall’s athletes continue to grace the podium nationally and on the UK stage, today it is the club’s online presence and progressive thinking that make it stand out from the crowd.

‘I was in Larkhall for about five years before I knew a running club existed,’ says YMCA President and club media and Welfare officer Ted Zokas.

‘Nobody knew it was there unless they knew it was there. And I thought, ‘Let’s change that’.’

Current club membership is 60 across junior and senior sections, but YMCA secretary Willie Mowbray is keen to see general membership return to around 75 in the coming year, with at least 50 of those being competitive members.

In addition to a ‘feeder’ group for five to eight-year-olds and an after school club held in Glengowan Primary School, both of which are proving highly successful, the club is now experiencing a significant boost from the launch of its new website – created by Zokas – in October 2023, together with its creative social media presence.

‘Ted’s work has been transformational,’ says Mowbray.

A case in point is the Larkhall YMCA Harriers TikTok training video that received in excess of 35k views. That translated into a number of membership enquiries from parents of potential young athletes who had seen it.

With an effective communications strategy in…

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