Posted on 22/09/2020 in Club News
Orkney Gymnastics Club has become the 54th club to open its own gymnastics facility in Scotland.
Despite the challenges of Covid-19, the club has managed to transform a former print works into a small gymnastics facility which they opened last week.
Until 2017, a recreational programme was run through the local sports centre until gymnastics was announced as one of the competing sports in the successful bid to host the International Island Games in 2023. The club was established and members began travelling to the mainland for Scottish floor and vault competitions.
The club was soon at maximum capacity with 30 competitive and 230 recreational gymnasts training each week with a further 300 waiting to join. The sports centre’s managing director suggested Orkney Gymnastics Club should run their own programme in a facility which would allow them to hold classes every night. Last September, the manager of their local newspaper stepped forward to offer their print room which was no longer used.
The club had hoped to open in April, but due to the global pandemic, they opened their doors on 14 September thanks to a monumental effort from their supportive parents, gymnasts and committee members, who spent two weeks cleaning, painting, transporting equipment and setting up.
Orkney Gymnastics Club’s head coach Jocelyn Tulloch said: “Our own facility will increase our sense of identity as a club and bring all of our gymnasts together under one roof, whether they are participating for fun, fitness, recreationally or competitively.
“With access to our own facility 24/7, we will be able to expand our programme, and increase our numbers. Previously we trained in various different venues and had to transport springboards, air-tracks, and apparatus which was time consuming and exhausting! Having regular access to asymmetric bars and beams will hopefully now allow us to begin training for four-piece competitions.
“In an island community, support and collaborative networks are essential and we are very fortunate that there seems to be a real passion for gymnastics. The success of our competitive gymnasts at two-piece competitions in Scotland over the last two years has brought a real sense of pride to the club and we picked up Junior Team of the Year 2018 at our local sports awards. Sport in Orkney is very popular, and there is an increasing buzz in the build up to the International Island Games in 2023, which is a very exciting prospect to be part of.
“Being able to create a programme which offers fundamentals, activities and participation opportunities to our young people is important to us, and in order to create a sustainable future for gymnastics in Orkney we have encouraged our senior gymnasts to get involved with The Saltire Volunteering Awards. We hope to boost their confidence and create educational opportunities within the sport as well as developing working skills such as collaborative learning, planning and coaching pathways.
“While island life has so many positive features, we are also faced with regular challenges such as increased travelling time, accommodation and extra costs to get to competitions, as well as being more isolated in terms of training opportunities for both coaches and gymnasts. We have had amazing support from gymnastics clubs such as Fyrish, Shetland and Inverness, without which our journey so far would have been so much more challenging. We are very grateful for their guidance and inclusive nature.
“We’ve had amazing support from the development team at Scottish Gymnastics and sportscotland, and we look forward to our new venture and planning our next steps for the future.”
Scottish Gymnastics club business manager Steven Maloney said: “Our development team has worked closely with Orkney Gymnastics Club for the last 18 months. We have developed a great working relationship with the committee, whose members have been forward thinking and taken on every bit of advice they could.
“We have supported them through changing their legal status to a charity, creating a viable business plan, with funding support, facility advice, design and programming and finally coaches’ contracts. They have also used the services of our finance, HR and legal partners throughout.
“We congratulate Orkney on their achievements to date and will continue to work with them to embrace the next chapter in their vision and help them flourish further.”
This is the second club to have opened their own facility during these challenging times, as Storm Gymnastics Club opened up a new facility in Paisley a few weeks ago and a further two clubs are ready to open the doors to new facilities in the coming months.
This shows the desire and determination of gymnastics clubs has not been slowed down by Covid-19.