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Getting Ready for 2020

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2 June 2008

 

 

 

Article by Mike Summers as featured in Athletics Weekly

 

 

The clock is ticking.  We have just over 12 years to go before the opening ceremony of the 32nd Olympiad.  And the responsibility for developing the 2020 medal winners lies firmly in the hands of the home country governing bodies.

 

A question I’m regularly asked is how does England Athletics sit alongside UK Athletics?  Where does England’s jurisdiction begin and end?  The simple answer is that UK Athletics owns the GB team, anti-doping, licensing of coaches and officials and major sponsorship and TV / media relationships, whilst the home country bodies are responsible for everything else.   That “everything else” is a very large project indeed.  

 

So, as the new Chief Executive in England, where do I begin?  You can’t build Rome in a day so you need to pick the highest priorities.  I’ll list you five of them.

 

First is getting our basic processes in order, and in particular the registration system for our 110,000 members.  This week we went live with a new online clubs portal that allows membership secretaries to manage their own member lists.  Conscious of a “Terminal 5” scenario, we’ve thoroughly tested the system with a cross-section of clubs to iron out the bugs and we’re confident that the process will now run smoothly.  Naturally there is always room for improvement and we will welcome feedback and suggestions for further enhancements. 

 

Second is communications.  Our nine regional teams do a good job of supporting clubs, coaches and officials, and providing development opportunities for talented young athletes.  We are supporting clubs across the country with “flying coach” visits, development seminars, funding programmes, subsidised training events, club member welfare support and more.  Yet in some corners of England we are still a well-kept secret, and I fully expect some AW readers to tell me that we’ve “never helped them”.  We need to change that, and work is beginning on a new website and other new communications programmes that will help enable a far better two-way conversation.   

 

Third is coaching and athlete development.  Our goal is to help to build a nationwide network of highly motivated coaches at all levels, skilled in best-practice coaching techniques.  We’re busy searching for a key appointment – a National Coaching and Development Manager – and their role will be to take an entirely fresh look at how we can transform the support we offer to coaches and emerging athletes across England.  Suggestions welcomed – email me at info@englandathletics.org.

 

Fourth is road running.  We’re now in a position to start re-investing the funds generated from road race licences back into the grassroots.  Race organisers, clubs and county associations will shortly be able to bid for grants for projects that raise coaching standards, improve event safety, develop new events in previously untapped communities or attract young people into distance running.

 

Fifth is transforming the athletics experience for school-age children.  Competition for kids’ attention is now fierce, and other sports are gaining ground.  Just as cricket has transformed itself with Twenty20, we need to look at fresh branding, new competition formats and structures that would allow all children to enjoy athletics, not only the "elite" who make the County Schools finals.  With this goal in mind we’re forming a new Schools Athletics Leadership Group, bringing together the ESAA, the Youth Sport Trust and other visionaries, and tasked them with writing the blueprint for a new approach to schools athletics. 

 

By getting the basics right now, we can help lay the grassroots foundations for a new rich crop of English champions.  In England Athletics, planning for 2020 has already begun.