Clubmark NI, the development and accreditation scheme for junior sports clubs in Northern Ireland, is celebrating a major milestone after Lisburn Taekwondo Club became the 100th club to achieve the prestigious quality standard.

The 100 clubs, which range from rugby to wrestling and fencing to football, have all achieved minimum operating standards in the areas of coaching, management and safety.

Lisburn Taekwondo Club, which started out with just 21 members in 1991, has grown significantly and is now running three weekly sessions to cater for 140 members, including a dedicated children’s session for 6-11 year olds.

Instructor Peter Stewart says the club initially registered for Clubmark NI for external endorsement of the high quality environment they provide members but found that the process was an excellent opportunity to reflect on and develop their ways of working. He comments: “It was satisfying to know that we already met a lot of the Clubmark NI criteria but the process helped us to focus on those areas we could improve on; and by creating a committee and action plan we could address these logically and came up with a lot of new ideas for the future progression of the club.”

Clubmark NI provides a framework for supporting sports clubs to develop. Sport Northern Ireland, local authority sports development units and governing bodies of sport work in partnership to guide the development of clubs within the programme.

Bertie Nicholson, Chair of Taekwondo Association Northern Ireland, is delighted with the impact that Clubmark NI has had on their clubs. He explains: “Taekwondo has traditionally been very hierarchal with the club instructor responsible for running the club as well as coaching. Clubmark NI helps clubs to work on a committee basis, tapping into the enthusiasm and skills of members or their parents, allowing the Instructor to focus on coaching. The Clubmark NI support templates have been an invaluable resource to help us work with the clubs.”

Sport Northern Ireland Chair Brian Henning praised the initiative, saying: “Personally, I am fully aware of the benefits of achieving Clubmark accreditation. Having been involved with setting up Banbridge Junior Rugby Club and as its first Chair, I found that working towards and attaining our Clubmark Gold Award assisted in embedding good policy and governance.

“It is with great credit to the commitment and continuous improvement of sports club volunteers across the region that Clubmark NI is in a position to celebrate the accreditation of 100th club. With the support of governing bodies of sport and local authorities, a further 200 clubs are currently involved in working towards Clubmark NI accreditation and I look forward to them following Lisburn Taekwondo Club in achieving the quality standard.”

The Clubmark NI programme and associate endorsed governing body and Local Authority club accreditation schemes provide a consistent mark of quality which allows parents/carers and participants alike to identify clubs who have achieved a minimum standard of quality in the areas of club management, coaching, competition and safety.

For further information on Clubmark NI, or how to get involved, register online at www.sportni.net/clubmarkni