Britain’s elite sports professionals congregated at The Belfry yesterday evening for the opening of UK Sport’s ninth annual World Class Performance Conference.
Over 300 delegates, including coaches, performance directors, sports scientists and team managers, have gathered together for three days to explore the theme of ‘teamship’, sharing best practise with each other as well as learning from other high performing teams from other industries.
Conference host, BBC Sport’s Hazel Irvine, explained that the theme of ‘teamship’ was selected in part due to feedback from the delegates attending the Conference last year. But John Steele, UK Sport’s Chief Executive, added that the theme was chosen in recognition of the fact that working together at this important time for British sport, and getting the most out of all the people supporting British athletes, will be fundamental to our success in 2012 and the system that is in place thereafter.
In welcoming the delegates to the conference Steele presented them with a challenge to embrace ‘teamship’ and learn as much from each other as possible over the coming days.
The evening’s proceedings also included the graduation of the fourth group to complete UK Sport’s Elite Coach programme, presented by the Chair, Baroness Sue Campbell. The nine coaches to complete the course this year were: Danny Kerry (hockey), Darren Warner (judo), Harry King (athletics), Graeme Antwhistle (swimming), Harvey Hilary (sailing), Jess Garland (netball), Louise Graham (swimming) , Steve Harris (canoeing), Toni Minichiello (athletics).
Minichiello, who coached Jessica Ennis to her fantastic World heptathlon title this year, spoke on behalf of the group and explained: “Building a winning team around an athlete is the most important thing in producing a winning athlete, and the role of Elite Coach has certainly made the difference there.”
Minichiello claimed that the most important thing Elite Coach had taught him was that you must always challenge yourself, and then posed a challenge back to the audience, to place the coaching profession at the heart of legacy planning for beyond 2012, as this will be crucial to future success.
The evening was rounded off by ex-Royal Marine turned adventurer, Monty Halls, who reflected on his own personal perceptions of the fundamentals of ‘teamship’, including the importance of individual and team identity and collective direction, as well as the challenge of having ‘morale hoovers’ within the team.
Delegates will now, today and tomorrow, break out into smaller groups and workshops to explore the ‘teamship’ theme and ethos further over the coming days.