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Welcome to Canberra BMX, where female participation has skyrocketed

It’s a Friday night and Canberra BMX club is abuzz with action. Families and friends have come along to enjoy a night at the track, not because they have to, but because they want to. In BMX, that means everything in the world is right.

This scene isn’t unique to Canberra BMX Club either. All over Australia riders arrive at their club – bike, helmet, safety clothing, transponder, support staff (see parents) in tow and hit the track. It’s as much about riding as it is a social gathering to catch up with your mates after a week at work. It’s the perfect start to the weekend.

For Canberra, there’s been a real change in the recent past. The club feels different, more vibrant. There’s a true sense of community. It’s taken a few years of work to get to this point says Matt Elliston.

“The club feels different, we’re really nailing that community feel that we used to have years ago. But it’s fresh and dynamic, and it’s been a few years of work,” Elliston says.

“We’ve made a conscious effort to hold ourselves to a high standard in the way we deal with people, and the way that we act as volunteers. More people have been coming, and female participation has seen a significant increase.”

Female participation in particular has been on the rise at the club. Wind the clock back to the 2012/13 financial year and there were only nine females on the books as riders. Now, there are 50. It’s a huge surge in membership, and something the club take pride in.

So much so, that in a week’s time the club will be playing a part in the Her Canberra (an organisation aimed at connecting women [and blokes] with their city and each other) ‘Active Week’. More on that later.

Improvements around Canberra BMX Club and the rise of female participation is, according to Elliston, due in part to a more consistent focus on coaching sessions.

“Coaching has been a big part of our improvement as a club,” he continued.

“Of late we have had four coaches routinely holding sessions, and this has really helped riders establish themselves at the club. People want to be coached, and it is also a great way for new people to meet other new people.

“From there they start attending race nights together, and then their social ties continue to widen.


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“On Wednesday’s we’ve been doing coaching sessions for mini wheelers, and it’s becoming a time for parents to meet up too. Some of the mums and dads have got into the coaching too and are becoming more involved. It makes them more committed to racing and coaching, and means they have an intention to be there. They aren’t just waiting around.”

The overarching factor at play for Canberra BMX Club is that inclusiveness has been a major factor in their turnaround. The feeling is that it is less about an obligation to be there, rather it’s a choice to join a vibrant community. It’s as much a place for riders as it is non-riders.

“Like any club there are multiple opportunities to become involved, especially for the non-riders,” Elliston outlined.

“We’re not specifically about unearthing the next world champion, some people simply want to be involved locally and they enjoy riding their bike. They might ride the state titles, and next year may even have a crack at the ACT National Series round too.

“For a lot of people, stepping up slowly into the sport is the way they will go about their business.

“But one of the things that is really noticeable among all the positive changes is that our members are taking it upon themselves to improve what we do. One mum in particular has taken an interest in our club media and social media. She’s also helped bring together a small group of people who are happy to get together and work on travel.

“Through all of that, events sit on our calendar and people are showing an interest in traveling to more events. It’s helping at a general volunteer level too. People want to be involved.”

With the club abuzz with riders, volunteers and people becoming more involved, next Wednesday, November 15, looms as an exciting day for Canberra BMX. They will host a come and Try Day in support of Her Canberra Active Week.

The Wednesday evening event will be a chance for girls and women in the city to give BMX a go.

While the event is aimed at females getting on a bike, the club are also inviting male friends, brothers, husbands and sons along too – such is the inclusiveness of Her Canberra, the club, and BMX as a sport. Good shout.

You can get involved there’s more information HERE: http://hercanberra.com.au/event/active-week-canberra-bmx/

Or you can register directly with the club HERE: canberrabmxclub@gmail.com or call 0411 438 839