Commonwealth Games England is very pleased to announce that SportsAid has been appointed as the delivery partner for the Team England Futures programme at the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games. The programme, supported by Sport England, will see young athletes and aspiring team support staff provided with unique experiences and insights into a multi-sport, major Games environment.
SportsAid will lead on the development, management and operational delivery of an innovative and ground-breaking education and experiential programme for athletes and support staff to be delivered during the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games. The aim is to better prepare athletes to deliver medal winning performances as either Team England, Team GB or ParalympicsGB debutants at future Games, while also giving support staff a first-hand look at the opportunities they could be presented with, as well as challenges they may face.
“We’re delighted to be partnering with SportsAid to deliver this fantastic project at Birmingham 2022. To be able to give young athletes the experience of a multi-sports event, as big as a home Commonwealth Games, will hopefully be invaluable to their future success. I’m sure we’ll discover some new stars along the way and help to inspire the next generation of sporting talent,” said Paul Blanchard – Chief Executive of Commonwealth Games England.
“From the outset we were keen to make sure that England and the UK High Performance system derives maximum value and benefit from hosting the 2022 Commonwealth Games and this programme is a key part of that.” said Duncan Truswell, Strategic Lead, Talent and Performance – Sport England.
“We know that attendance at a multi-sport, major games can be a formative experience for developing athletes and the team that support them, opening their eyes about the unique opportunities and challenges that lie ahead. Together with our partners, SportsAid and Commonwealth Games England, we are committed to providing an experience which gives our people a truly insightful and inspirational experience. They will get practical, actionable, advice and support from those athletes and coaches who have gone before them and I am really excited to see the impact.”
The Team England Futures programme will reinforce the importance of the Commonwealth Games, particularly one hosted on home soil, as a developmental opportunity within the talent and performance pathway. The athletes and support staff will gain a greater understanding into being part of a diverse, multi-sport team and its values. They will also see first-hand the inspiration and impact of able bodied and para athletes competing alongside each other, as part of one team – a very special element of the Commonwealth Games experience.
The programme will assist athletes and support staff in recognising how to perform at their best, how to handle the pressure and distractions associated with a major Games, and how to make the most of the experience. This will be achieved through a mixture of interactive online workshop sessions, spectator and behind-the-scenes experiences and visits to the various athlete training and accommodation facilities. There will also be time for crucial interaction with Team England athletes and other inspirational ambassadors throughout to allow participants to learn directly from them and quiz them on their top tips.
“Team England Futures is a very exciting programme to be involved with and everyone at SportsAid is committed to playing their part,” said Tim Lawler – Chief Executive of SportsAid. “Our principle objectives are to ensure that the athletes and team support staff involved have the most unique, meaningful and inspirational experience of their sporting journeys so far. If that can be achieved, then sport will have a cohort of people with a unique bond and shared experience that should frame and inspire their personal journey in some form for the rest of their lives.”
Tim added: “This project also presents a rare opportunity for SportsAid to directly contribute, almost in real time, towards the national effort at a major Games on home soil – in contrast to the charity’s usual position further ‘up-stream’, often being the first help an athlete receives in their sporting journey. The organisational learning that will come from that will be invaluable.”
SportsAid is a charity which typically supports over 1,000 athletes each year – the vast majority aged 12 to 18 – by providing them with financial awards, recognition and personal development opportunities. These athletes are the country’s brightest sporting prospects having been nominated by the National Governing Bodies (NGBs) of more than 60 sporting disciplines, with set criteria for each. This process will also be followed for the selection of athletes for the Team England Futures programme.
Since 1976, SportsAid has supported tens of thousands of athletes with the charity’s extensive alumni stretching across the generations. Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill, Dame Sarah Storey, Daley Thompson CBE, Sir Bradley Wiggins, Christine Ohuruogu MBE and Adam Peaty MBE are all stand-out names. The charity’s impressive track record was highlighted at the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games where 250 members of its alumni represented Team England with a return of 101 medals (31 gold, 40 silver, 30 bronze).
As part of an award from SportsAid, the charity regularly delivers workshops to athletes across the country in addition to online support. This sees them being offered mentoring by Olympians and Paralympians, and gaining advice from industry experts on topics such as performance lifestyle management, supporting mental wellbeing, healthy nutrition on a budget, telling your story through the media and how best to seek further sponsorship. There are also sessions catered for parents and guardians providing guidance on how best to support their child’s sporting journey.
“Looking back now, there is no doubt that I would have benefited from a programme like Team England Futures,” said Emily Defroand – Great Britain and England Hockey player and a Commonwealth Games bronze medallist at the Gold Coast in 2018. “Being provided with an insight and to experience a major Games environment which, for most athletes would be the pinnacle of their sports, would have inspired me to train and work harder than ever before. The experience would have spurred me on every day to ensure I fulfil my potential in sport.”
SportsAid is an acknowledged critical system partner by Sport England, the principle investor in the England Talent Pathway environment, and the charity has an established and vibrant working relationships with the NGBs. Furthermore, SportsAid has proven experience in developing the Backing the Best programme, as well as managing the Talented Athlete Scholarship Scheme, and is well-placed to deliver Team England Futures on behalf of Commonwealth Games England.