Public support for the installation of an all-weather athletics track at the Pugh Sports Bowl in Masterton has been described as "very encouraging".
The Wairarapa Regional All Weather Track Trust was faced with having to raise $50,000 from within the community if the Masterton District's Council is to honour a pledge to provide a grant of $300,000 towards the $1m facility and they are well on the way to doing so.
Trustee Mark Harris revealed yesterday that $26000 was already to hand and if promised contributions were included that figure could be raised to $32.000.
"The support has been very encouraging and right now we are optimistic our target will be reached," he said, adding that most of the monies received to date had come from individuals rather than business houses. "People appreciate what an all-weather track will mean to the Wairarapa, not just for athletics but for the whole of the sporting community"
Harris said the WRAWT was continuing to operate on the assumption that with the MDC commitment on board and other applications for funding assistance also confirmed, construction of the new track would begin this summer, commencing in late January and being completed by the end of April.
But he warned that if the $50,000 was not raised by December the liklihood was construction would have to be delayed until the following summer. "It's very important we can keep the momentum going, that we don't rest on our laurels just because we have made such a positive start," he said.
Helping to guarantee that momentum is sustained are several schools within the Wairarapa region who have indicated they will be holding various fund raising ventures with the idea of donating the profits to WRAWT.
"We see schools as being amongst the biggest users so we are absolutely rapt a\t the support they are giving us," Harris said.
That the proposed new track would attract major track and field events to the Wairarapa has been a major selling point for the advocates of the facility and a recent decision by the Wellington centre was music to their ears.
They have allocated the 2011 Colgate inter-provincials for children aged 12 and 13yrs to Masterton, providing the eight-lane track becomes a reality. That meet would see provinces from all over the country compete against each other with as many as 300 young athletes taking part.
Meanwhile Harris and another of the region's track and field coaching stalwarts in John Quinn were in Melbourne last week where they attended a coaching congress held by the Australian Coaches Association., an organisation with just under 3000 paid up members.
"They (Australia) are big on coaching, they work hard to make that base as strong as it can possibly be," Harris said. "They have a huge depth of knowledge, and it shows."
The importance of developing the mental skills of athletes to absolute capacity was stressed at the congress with the message being that the brain was a key element in optimum performance being achieved.
"Psychology has become a very important part of the coaching process," Harris said. "Good technique is vital and so is self belief. Coaches need to be clued up both ways these days."