"If they don't have fun, they aren't going to come back. That's what Junior Development is "â€œ developing skills while having fun."Â
- Jessie Dosanjh, Head Coach of Universal Athletics Club
Universal Athletics Club develops engaged youth through track and field.
It's easy to watch the news and blame today's youth for problems, but Jessie Dosanjh, Head Coach of Universal Athletics Club (UAC), doesn't see things that way.
Together with family and friends, Jessie started the track and field club 14 years ago to give youth a place to learn skills, have fun and grow into responsible, productive adults.
"Sports was in our family,"Â Jessie said. "Someone gave it to us and we want to give it back. I put my best time into helping the kids in the club. We welcome all youth."Â
Practicing primarily at North Surrey Secondary School, UAC is 100 members strong and is affiliated with Athletics Canada and BC Athletics. By adopting the programs of these organizations, UAC offers skills-based programs from seven-year-olds up to masters level.
Sprinting, jumping and throwing make up the core of track and field skills, but Jessie and his team add another element: fun.
"If they don't have fun, they aren't going to come back,"Â Jessie noted. "That's what Junior Development is "â€œ developing skills while having fun."Â
Jessie credits his team of nine experienced coaches with ensuring fun is at the core, but parents are also welcome to get involved with the club in a variety of ways.
"Without everyone's involvement and support, we cannot do anything,"Â noted Jessie who has been staff with BC Athletics Provincial Teams and BC team coach for the 2010 and 2013 Youth National Championships.
The club also organizes annual banquets to honour great athletes and celebrate community sport. Past speakers have included Olympians Dylan Armstrong, Gary Reed, Robert Esmie and Jessie's uncle Balbir Singh Dosanjh.
UAC has an enviable reputation: the club produced eight 2013 BC award winners from the Junior Development programs; the first female Indo-Canadian BC track and field athlete to become a Youth National Champion came from UAC; a female UAC member was chosen to represent Canada at the 2013 World University Games, and; four club members earned bronze medals at the 2013 Youth National Championship in the 4 x 400m category.
"We never thought it was going to be this big,"Â said Jessie. "Kids need the opportunity to develop skills. I appeal to the whole community to put your kids in track and field if they want to compete in any sport."Â
Each child receives individual training, but it's not complex. Jessie feels simplicity, fun and interaction with other youth makes the program effective.
"We have a fun program trained by young coaches,"Â Jessie noted. "We teach overall skills then bring in the specific coaches for jumping, throwing, sprinting and more."Â
UAC also provides coaching education and certification, leadership development, officials, skills development, cultivation of club volunteers and a thriving board of directors. The club hosted the athletics portion of the 2012 BC Summer Games and was recognized as the best volunteers in the history of the event. Club members will join the staff team for the 2014 games.
"If we can do something for others, we've done something in this life,"Â he added. "Our club saying is, if you can not do great things, do small things in a great way."
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