UK Sport has unveiled a new suite of coach development opportunities geared toward the Paralympic workforce, to enhance opportunities for learning and collaboration among Paralympic coaches on the Road to Rio.
With the ambitious task ahead of Great Britain becoming the first host nation to deliver more Olympic and Paralympic medals at the next Games, and the context of the ever growing and evolving Paralympic movement, UK Sport has established ‘Project Para’, in an effort to accelerate the UK’s Paralympic high performance system.
The Project Para Impact Group, made up of multidisciplinary experts from across high performance Paralympic sport in the UK, work to facilitate bespoke projects and drive collaborative partnerships to enhance and develop Paralympic high performance sport.
Given the crucial role that coaches play in their athletes’ success, coach development is a key area of focus for the Project Para Impact Group. The newly established ParaCoach2RIO initiatives will seek to ensure our Paralympic coaches are best placed to support their athletes on the Road to Rio and beyond.
The initiatives on offer have been designed following an extensive period of consultation with the Paralympic sports and will target coaches who are not already benefitting from UK Sport’s existing coach development programmes, encouraging knowledge sharing across the sports and meeting a variety of their learning and development needs through:
- Themed workshops
- A coaching hub
- Team sports forum
- Head Coach bespoke support
Margaret Hicks, UK Sport’s Paralympic Coach Development Coordinator and Project Para Impact Group member, said: "My consultation with sports in the last few months has demonstrated the diverse development needs of Paralympic coaches within the high performance system. The Para Coach2RIO initiatives will therefore allow for more opportunities for coaches to progress their learning and coaching practice, as well as help promote and foster a collaborative coaching community."
Paula Dunn, Paralympic Head Coach British Athletics, said:"Coaches are selfless, but we need to take time to get reenergised and take a step back to make sure we’re doing the right things. Making coaches focus on their own pathway is essential, not just for their own personal development, but for making a positive impact on their athletes.
"We’re less than two and a half years out from Rio and the coaches in the system now are generally going to be those that will coach athletes to Rio, so we need to make sure they are in the best possible position to support the athletes. The athlete-coach pair is crucial and the ParaCoach2Rio initiatives can only support that relationship going forward."
Paul Davies, Performance Director of British Wheelchair Basketball, said "I like that the ParaCoach2RIO initiative offers us a team sport specific opportunity, working alongside Wheelchair Rugby; a coach development programme that is Paralympic-specific, team sport-specific, wheelchair-specific and court sport-specific will be great for us both as there’s so much cross over between our objectives."
Lorraine Brown, Performance Director of Great Britain Wheelchair Rugby, added: "It’s a critical time for us. We don’t have our own sophisticated pathway of coach development in Wheelchair Rugby, so ParaCoach2RIO will allow us to impact our Head Coach and right through all the coaches on our programme.
"The ability to cross fertilise and share ideas with Wheelchair Basketball, as well as challenge each other, is a real first and that’s going to be invaluable in preparing for Rio and developing an underpinning legacy long term through involving our talent development coaches and eventually club coaches too."
ParaCoach2RIO underpins UK Sport’s other coach development initiatives – Athlete to Coach, the Elite Coaching Apprenticeship Programme and the Elite Programme to ensure a clear career development pathway for high performance coaches in British sport.