Alternative introduction


The annual six-day camp, hosted in 2006 and 2007 by the AK Poljane Club in the country’s northeastern city of Maribor, is aimed at 16 to 19-year-olds and their coaches. It attracts up to 100 athletes from throughout Slovenia as well as the neighboring countries of Austria, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Croatia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Italy, Montenegro and Serbia.

“Our aim is to give the young athletes a positive experience that is more than just training or competition,” says the federation’s Director Boriz Mikuz. “We want to introduce them to the building blocks of athletics - and to the world surrounding our sport.”

“Those who take part get a great chance to meet interesting people from different cultures speaking different languages. They live together, work out together and learn from each other.”

On top of the serious training each day, the participants regularly receive demonstrations of disciplines other than their own specialties and instruction on topics such as public relations and media management or the role technology and science play in sport. In 2007, the Sports Faculty of the University of Ljubljana delivered presentations on the fight against doping, which included doping control tests for the camp participants.

Athletes who want a chance to compete during the camp period are able to enter local events within two hours’ drive of Maribor and, according to Mikuz, the organisers are currently evaluating whether to stage small competitions using the host club’s facilities as part of future camps in order to avoid the need to travel.

In addition to the resources provided by the host club and the federation, support for the camp has come from the local government, local commercial sponsors and the Sports Foundation of Slovenia. From 2005 to 2007 the organisers also received a grant from the European Athletics Support Programme.

The camp is open to young people with an interest in athletics, regardless of ability or past performances. Places are awarded a first-come, first-served basis and all participants pay a fee to cover their accommodation and food.

“We are really happy with the way the project has developed over the years,” says Mikuz. “Almost all the athletes and coaches give us very positive feedback and say they want to participate in the future. Now we are considering extending the camp to two or three weeks and maybe making it available to 12 and 13-year-olds as well.”

Fact File
Programme: Athletics Summer Camp
Organiser: AK Poljane Club and Atletska Zveza Slovenije (Slovenian Athletics Federation)
Start Date: 1992
Target Group: Athletes 16 to 19 years-old and their coaches
Participants in 2008:80 (68 athletes and 12 coaches)
Venues: Maribor (from 2007)
Support: The Sport Foundation of Slovenia, local government, commercial sponsors
More Information: Boris Mikuz [email protected]

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