Commonwealth Games England has appointed SportsAid to lead on the development, management and operational delivery of Team England Futures at the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games.
The aim of Team England Futures 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 at a multi-sport Games.
The programme, supported by Sport England, 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.
The programme will enable a diverse cohort of athletes and support staff to recognise 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. They will also see first-hand the inspiration and impact of able bodied and para athletes competing alongside each other.
There will be a mixture of interactive online workshop sessions, spectator and behind-the-scenes experiences and visits to athlete training and accommodation facilities. There will also be time for crucial interaction with Team England athletes and other inspirational ambassadors to allow participants to learn directly from them and quiz them on their top tips.
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 NGBs. Furthermore, SportsAid has proven experience in developing the Backing The Best programme and managing the Talented Athlete Scholarship Scheme.
"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.
"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."
SportsAid athletes had huge success at the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games with 101 medals - 31 gold, 40 silver and 30 bronze - won for Team England. The charity’s recipients contributed to 74% of the podium finishes delivered by Team England during 11 days of world-class action. Swimming saw the best return for SportsAid athletes with 21 medals celebrated at the Optus Aquatic Centre. Gymnastics was the next most productive sport.
There were 250 beneficiaries of the charity’s support competing for Team England in Australia - 93 of which had received help since 2014. Eight medals were won by current awardees, including gold for sprinter Reuben Arthur in the 4x100m relay and silver for James Arnott in the T47 100m, and a further seven for five previous victors of SportsAid’s annual One-to-Watch Award - Amber Hill, Courtney Tulloch, Tom Daley, Harry Martin and Morgan Lake.
"Looking back now, there is no doubt that I would have benefited from a programme like Team England Futures as a young athlete. 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.
"The whole experience of a multi-sport Games is quite overwhelming and humbling when the realisation hits that you are competing in one of the biggest sporting events in the world. However, after being involved in the Team England Futures programme, SportsAid athletes will definitely get a better idea for what a multi-sport experience may feel and look like, and ultimately it'll be less daunting when it happens for themselves in the future!"
Emily Defroand - Great Britain and England Hockey player and a Commonwealth Games bronze medallist at the Gold Coast in 2018
"Our principle objectives are to ensure that the athletes and team support staff involved in Team England Futures have the most unique, meaningful and inspirational experience. If that can be achieved, then sport will have a cohort of people with a unique bond and shared experience that frames and inspires their personal journey for the rest of their lives.
"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."
Tim Lawler, Chief Executive, SportsAid