When Welsh Triathlon Regional Academy Coach, Roy Healey set up
Ruthin Tri-Stars with the support of Sport Wales Local Authority
Partnership Agreement (LAPA) funding his main aim was to provide an
alternative option for youngsters in his area to get active.
Fast-forward four years and the club are now thriving with a
successful talent identification scheme, hosting the next Welsh
Triathlon TriStar National Triathlon Championships and, most
importantly with over 100 happy and active children taking part
Founder Roy, recalls:
"We wanted to provide something else for kids to do; it seemed
that they either played football or rugby or went to
gymnastics. There wasn't a great deal else on offer, so I
worked with the Denbighshire Sport Development Team to look at
another cost effective option for the area."
That cost effective option turned into Ruthin Tri-Stars Junior
Triathlon club, offering three sports in one and with a clear focus
on developing skills that could be used across the board.
"A lot of what we do is skill development, alongside helping
them to develop endurance. We'll go right back to correcting
posture when needed. They need the skills to move on.
But in a fun and playful way - they have to enjoy it.
"We also drive that they are part of other clubs as well,
especially at elite level, to help development in that specific
area and hone individual skills."
And the club now has plenty of skilled and very talented
youngsters. Ruthin Tri-Stars has supported a number of
youngsters to represent their country, has 12 of its members ranked
within the top five of Wales for their age group and regularly puts
out a successful team at events across the country.
But it's not all about winning competitions at the club.
With more than 100 juniors on the books and an impressive track
record in retaining new starters, the club have got the balance
just right when it comes to those just looking to take part
"For those who want to go further, we will support and ensure
they get there. But there are others who come every week for
just for the fitness, social and fun side of things and we work
hard to ensure these kids keep coming and stay enjoying."
On the back of their own success, Ruthin Tri-Stars have also
helped two other clubs within North East Wales get off with a
headstart. Here's a peep at their top tips for developing a
club, whatever the sport or activity.
Roy's Top Tips
Make it enjoyable
Roy was first to state that their focus was very much on
developing skills, but that this was done in a fun and playful way,
so that every child who came could enjoy what they were doing.
Ruthin Tri-Stars have a very successful system for spotting and
developing talent. However they also put a lot of effort into
ensuring that their offer is right for those who simply want to
take part for fun.
"We're quite unique, we have three sports and none of which
require just the best of the group being picked into the
team. The focus is simply on everyone taking part at their
own level and enjoying it."
This may be a unique position, but the concept can certainly be
stretched across the board.
Gain support from parents
"You can't do it all on your own" - Roy made it his mission to
gain the support of parents both to support the running of the club
as volunteers and also so they could see the benefit that taking
"We talked to parents, let them know our plans, let them sit in
on sessions and asked them to come on our journey. We gained
their trust and now have volunteers to support us."
Get the coaching right
"We have brilliant coaches, male and female that keep our
session enjoyable while really developing the
Ruthin Tri-Stars have taken advantage of Community Chest grants
from Sport Wales to support the development and qualification of
their coaches. They also work closely with other triathlon
clubs in the area to build a coaching network where ideas and best
practice are shared.
Ask for advice
Roy had connections with the national governing body, Welsh
Triathlon, but he strongly advises approaching NGBs and other clubs
within the region for support in developing and setting up.
Keep the prices low
Ruthin Tri-Stars initially started with the support of Sport
Wales funding, but they are also smart in sourcing other available
funding and savvy in hiring facilities. This allows them to
keep prices low, meaning that the club is accessible to more
"At the very beginning we worked out what our break-even price
would need to be. We review this to ensure we don't get into
Boost your profile & generate income wherever
Ruthin Tri-Stars hosts four triathlon events a year not only
helping to boost their profile within the sport but also to
generate income, which again keeps the costs down for the