FUNdamentals Academy

Co-ordinated by Steve Sparkes (

(Applicants must be in School Years 3, 4 or 5)

Training Sessions

We meet every Thursday (other than a fortnight's break at Christmas time) outdoors on grass and on rubber track at the County Ground athletics complex: 6.00–6.45pm or 6.50–8.00pm.

Your child needs to be dressed appropriately for the weather, wearing trainers in good condition and to bring a drinks bottle with their name on it.

The timeslot your child receives depends on their school year – typically it's Year 4s in the first session and Year 5s in the second session. If one particular timeslot is a problem, we can move the child into the other session provided there's a place going spare.

Athletes spend the session practicing one of Throwing and Conditioning, Middle Distance running, Sprint-Relay, or Long Jump. Some weeks, ahead of a competition event, we'll have a competition session covering all four disciplines.

There is no charge for the first session; subsequently the child would need to sign as a member (free) and pay a monthly track fee of £18.00.

Coaching Staff

All sessions are led by volunteers:

  • UK Athletics–qualified coaches
  • UK Athletics–qualified Coaching Assistants
  • Drawn from a cohort of guardians and parents, supplemented by Duke of Edinburgh Award students and A Level/NVQ work experience students.

Applications are prioritised for a child who will be accompanied at training by a volunteer parent–guardian helper. If you want to take up this opportunity, let us know in your application email. You will be offered a trial visit to see current adult helpers in action. You will also be asked to provide basic information about yourself to enable us to make the requisite background checks for those working with children. Once approved, we would extend an invite to join, initially on a probationary term.

Competition Participation

We encourage our young athletes, regardless of ability, to take part in competitions such as Quad Kids* in the Spring and Summer, and the Sportshall League** or cross country in the Winter. It's a great way to put those newly acquired skills into practice and having fun while gaining confidence competing for Swindon Harriers.

We are a competitive club. Following their first term, there is an expectation the athlete competes in at least 2 meetings during a 12 month period. If an athlete does not compete for the club during this period of time and there are no legitimate reasons why the athlete has not competed, the FUNdamentals Group Coordinator will approach the athlete's parent or guardian to request the athlete leaves the group so that someone else from our lengthy waiting list, can join.

For those who find they just want to keep fit and not compete as part of the FUNdamentals Academy, we are exploring setting up a Keep Fit and Improving Group on Monday nights in early 2024. For that to be successful, we shall need to assemble a group of volunteers prepared to support staffing it under the lead of one of our coaches.

* Quad Kids: 75 metre sprint, 600 metres run, long jump and vortex throw. Our Wessex League Under 11 Competition Quad Kids squad is by invitation only to Year 4 and 5 pupils, based on our observations of the athletes over time, largely from the preceding September through to Christmas. There are always more children who wish to join the squad than places available. If your child is not selected this year, they may be chosen in a future year or get an opportunity if one of the current squad is unable to attend a meeting. Our young athletes are growing physically, technically and mentally at different speeds so your child may well be saving their star turn for a future date.

** Sportshall: Sportshall Athletics Home – Everything you need to take part in Sportshall

In the winter, there's 2 kilometre (2k) cross–county races on the first Sunday of each month as part of the Oxfordshire Cross County League:

We also will let you know of other one-off open events from time to time.

Junior Parkruns

We encourage our athletes to register as 'Swindon Harriers' and take part in the Swindon Junior Parkrun (2k) event which take place every Sunday at 9am in Lydiard Park. For more information, click here

How to apply to join FUNdamentals

Due to demand, we operate a waiting list. Please DO NOT turn up at the track uninvited as we won't be able to accommodate your child.

If you would like your child to be added to the waiting list, please use the 'Contact Us' form at the bottom right of the page (please add "FAO: Steve Sparkes" in your message.)

We will need the following information:

  • Name
  • Date of birth
  • School attending
  • A contact phone number
  • If you are willing to be a volunteer helper, to state this.

Coach Steve Sparkes

Coach Steve Sparkes.