UK Sport’s Leading Edge Programme works hand-in-hand with sporting bodies to create world class Leaders who can lead outstanding organisations through change to drive sustainable success. As part of the programme, CEOs have the opportunity to make an international trip.
One of the first people to do so was GB Boxing’s Chief Executive Matt Holt. He recently travelled to Kenya and Tanzania with our International Development team and the London 2012 legacy charity, International Inspiration. He tells us about his journey where he was able to witness the power of sport to help develop communities and shape lives.
Nairobi, Kenya - 18th June:
“My host Sadique, from the charity Fight for Peace, and I set out to visit community sports projects in the city. The first was in Kirigocho, one of Nairobi's biggest slums and the scene of significant violence during the 2008 elections.
"Community leaders, however, refuse to accept that history dictates future and with a combination of teaching staff and local sport coaches, with support from Fight for Peace, have built an inspiring project in which school children and other disaffected young people are encouraged to build their lives positively around participation in sport. Demonstrations of boxing, capoeira, karate and taekwondo showed the range of activity and talent and the project is making valuable inroads, transforming lives individually and collectively.
"Later that afternoon we visited Dallas and Muthare North boxing clubs, both are prodigious producers of talent and regularly supply boxers to the Kenyan national team. Bearing in mind facilities consist of a single bag, a few pairs of gloves, some home-made, the success is phenomenal.
"The common denominators of their success are the way they engage the local community, the quality of the leadership of the people, both coaches in the gym and volunteers supporting the club. At both clubs we discussed the possibilities of working in partnership, providing opportunities for both boxers and coaches to gain international experience and to share knowledge on how to get more boxers into gyms and how to turn them into champions."
Arusha, Tanzania - 20th June
"Representatives from across East Africa arrived for day one of the workshop on leadership and governance in East African sport. The session on managing-self gave me the opportunity to share some of my experiences in remaining focused on a goal when under pressure in challenging times and this was the catalyst for some lively discussion about both the joys and occasional frustrations of working in sport.
"Similarly, the afternoon debate on governance, a subject not unfamiliar to those involved in boxing, demonstrated the commonality of issues and provided the opportunity to share ideas on how we could all work to best effect to build and manage organisations that are focused on achieving success in our respective spheres."
Arusha, Tanzania - 21st June
"After an evening of nyama choma (barbequed meat) on the streets of Arusha, the group settled into day two. The day was brilliantly facilitated by George Ngange from Kenya, with the focus on Safeguarding and Child Protection and the development of coaching standards and education through co-operation. The serious stuff was interspersed with a range of energising exercises, some familiar and some less so in - I wouldn't have expected that there would be so many different African variations on the round of applause!"
Moshi, Tanzania - 23rd June
"We left for Moshi in the morning to meet with the organisers of the East Africa Cup, one of the largest multi-national tournaments in the world with over 800 footballers from every nation of East Africa competing in five different venues at the foot of Mount Kilimanjaro.
"Observing sessions on media and publicity, refereeing and safeguarding, the level of commitment and expertise was impressive and seeing some of the issues previously discussed put into action on such a large scale really brought the challenges and discussions to life. The East Africa Cup demonstrated what sport can achieve. A team from South Sudan was in attendance comprising of players who had not only never previously left their country, but players from rival warring factions in the country's civil war, putting some of our local difficulties into real perspective."
Arusha to Dar es Salaam to London - 24th June
"On the return journey I had time to reflect on the week; the contrasting experiences of grassroots sports in action at both a very local level through to an international scale. Issues of governance, protecting our young athletes and raising standards of coaching offered a real and meaningful overview of the development of sport and its institutions in Africa.
"I learnt how to deal with issues in different contexts and the impetus to consider partnerships and the exchange of knowledge that could benefit us in the UK and the people working for us, to continue to drive improvements in the work we all do in sport.
"I am extremely grateful to Fight for Peace, UK Sport and all those involved in the Leading Edge Programme for arranging such a unique opportunity that was inspiring, informative, enjoyable and beneficial. Most importantly, by taking some of the proposals for partnership forward we can work towards building an on-going legacy for coaches and athletes in the future."
Leading Edge is an Executive Leadership programme for Chief Executives from Scotland, Wales, England, Northern Ireland as well as Great Britain’s National Governing Bodies.