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Tweet Tuesday 26th December 2017

Interview with Clive Wilkinson, Head Coach at Suffolk Orienteering Club

Tim Herod, England Development Officer at British Orienteering, says: “I thought I would interview Clive Wilkinson, Head Coach at Suffolk Orienteering Club (SUFFOC) after I visited the club event at Haughley Park where shadowing was offered. I witnessed coaches going out with newcomers and being a helping hand when they needed assistance. I was very impressed with the scheme and thought that I would ask Clive to tell us about the shadowing scheme.” 


Tim Herod (TH): “Hi Clive, how long have you been involved with the club?”

Clive Wilkinson (CW): “I have been with the club since 2004 over 13 years ago and have actively been involved ever since.”

TH: “When was the Shadowing concept first introduced and was it your initiative or the clubs?”

CW: “The shadowing initiative was introduced last summer as a first attempt and we have run it throughout the summer of 2017 with a few coaches involved and at the lower level events that the club has organised. The idea was introduced by myself and the club have taken it on board. I am sure it will prove to be a successful way of helping new people in the sport.”

TH: “How many events per year do you offer the shadowing?”

CW: “We have run 4-5 events this year during the summer series targeting areas such as Haughley Park last year in October.”

TH: “Who are the main recipients for the shadowing?”

CW: “We introduced the shadowing for beginners as part of a scheme to welcome newcomers and less experienced members of the club so that we can help if needed out on the course but also in giving feedback at the end of the run. This will hopefully lead to return visits to the club and help develop the skills of the orienteers.”

Clive Wilkinson, Head Coach at Suffolk Orienteering Club

TH: “Do you think that other members would benefit as part of helping the club develop?”

CW: “Yes, myself and the other club coaches have also shadowed more experience orienteers at the club so that we can help them develop their skills. Sometimes this may prove difficult if we cannot keep up with them.”

TH: “Do you keep records on people who have been shadowed and whether they return and continue to attend sessions and become members of the club?”

CW: “The club keeps records of all people attending the sessions and the coaches ensure that we have a chat straight after the shadowing. We also like to follow up with an email where possible to make them feel welcome and keep in touch.”

TH: “How volunteer heavy is the shadowing? How do you arrange the process for each event?

CW: “We usually arrange for a couple of coaches to be available at the events and we also can call on other experienced members from the club if we have a request for more people wanting the shadowing experience. The coaches enjoy the process and hopefully still have a chance to have a run after the shadowing.”

TH: “Do you feel that it has benefited the club?

CW: “As the scheme has only run for the first time this summer the impact on the club cannot be determined yet, but I feel that after a series of events in 2018 we will get a much better picture of the overall success of retaining and developing existing members. However, the feedback from all the recipients of the shadowing has all been very positive.”

TH: “Are you aware of other clubs who use similar techniques at events?”

CW: “I am not aware of any other clubs who offer shadowing during events, but I am sure that many coaches are using this technique in the coaching sessions they run.”

TH: “Do you feel the offer of shadowing helps welcome newcomers into the sport?”

CW: “Yes, I feel that it greatly adds to the welcome process for newcomers who get a friendly one to one session at possibly their first go at orienteering.”

TH: “What if any are the negatives of the shadowing resources?”

CW: “The only negative which could occur is if you have not sufficient people to run the shadowing, but this has not happened yet at our sessions.”

TH: “Do you think it would be an easy scheme to replicate it other clubs?”

CW: “Most definitely and I think that many of the coaches would really relish the opportunity to help newcomers into the sport.”

TH: “Will you continue to offer the shadowing over the next 2-3 years.”

CW: “I think the club will endeavor to run the sessions over the next couple of seasons so that we can then gauge the impact and see how we can develop and improve the shadowing scheme.”

British Orienteering would like to thank Clive and Suffolk Orienteering Club for the information and wish them further success in their shadowing scheme.

Photo credits: Chris Gay, Suffolk Orienteering Club