The Star Club Junior Rowing Squad has been developed under the leadership of former Sharnbrook Upper School student and now Community Rowing Coach Mark Bavington. They have athletes taking part from approximately eight state schools and two private schools in land based indoor rowing through to water sessions and onto a competitive Junior team. The team races at local, regional and national events including National Schools Regatta and Henley Royal Regatta.
The club's aim is to achieve at the highest level possible – and to take that ethos into the schools and classrooms of the athletes involved – at the same time the process adopted is inclusive – with hundreds of young people getting an introduction to the sport every year. Significant numbers then chose to continue with the sport and all that it brings.
Star Club aim to build a pyramid encouraging school students to get involved in indoor rowing. Their Community Rowing Coach delivers this into maintained schools and from that develops those with the interest to move through to the water based team and the competitive side of the sport on the water.
Bedford has a tradition of rowing and The University of Bedfordshire are proud to sponsor this squad who aim to facilitate change to make the sport truly accessible for all.
The partnership and funding with the University will enable the squad to expand on two fronts. Firstly an additional part-time professional coach will be employed; contributing toward extra coaching available to schools. Secondly, the University will be working closely with the squad to demonstrate that there is a further education option that allows the students to continue their rowing locally in the Under 23's section whilst carrying on their education.
The Star Club are keen to demonstrate that sport is a part of education in schools, complimenting academic work. These 'life skills' will contribute toward the students personal qualities which they can later use on their personal statements.
The University also plans to visit the athletes both at the rowing club and in schools, looking at both opportunities for further education with the university and on relevant subject areas.
Ultimately it is about building a productive partnership between the grass roots of one of our most successful Olympic sports, education and business.