Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Dear non-german-speaking readers! I know, that my English is lousy. I'm only translating the posts sometimes, so you can guess what it's about. This one is about a little girl that entered the comic-library and told me, that she is looking for a book with at least 500 pages --and no pictures! Her friend wanted to read comics, but she decided to leave our third-class library.

Welsh Success on the World Stage

In our latest blog spot Sport Wales Chair, Professor Laura McAllister reflects on recent Welsh sporting success and highlights our growing reputation in the field of disability sport - with a view to the London 2012 Paralympics - and the need to adopt a 'no compromise' attitude to maintain this momentum at all levels of sport. 

"Now that we’ve celebrated a Year to Go to the Olympics and Paralympics, London 2012 suddenly seems so near on the horizon.

"It’s been fantastic to see our Welsh athletes excel on the world stage. Dai Greene executed his race brilliantly at the Worlds in South Korea. It’s also been really exciting to follow Helen Jenkins’ season and it is wonderful to celebrate yet another World Champion from Wales.

"Taekwondo’s Jade Jones, Para-archery’s Pippa Britton and Para-Cycling’s Mark Colbourne – who has made rapid progress since he broke his back in May 2009 – have all claimed silvers at World Championships.

"Our young talent has also been in the limelight, thanks to the UK School Games and the Commonwealth Youth Games. Wales finished fifth in the medal table at the latter event – a result which I believe augurs well for Wales success at Glasgow 2014. Hats off to the team who won five golds, 11 silver, 10 bronze.

"We’ve had such success lately, I’m acutely aware that I’m in danger of missing someone out so I’ll stop there.

"The Year to Go to the Paralympics was a great opportunity to reflect on our success to date in disability sport in Wales.

"I firmly believe that Wales is trailblazing as a nation when it comes to disability sport. We take it very seriously and this is demonstrated by the fact that Welsh competitors were responsible for a quarter of the gold medals won by Team GB back in 2008.

"Whenever I’m in London with UK Sport, Sue Campbell (Chair), and Peter Keen (Director of Performance) always look to Wales as an exemplar of what can be achieved in disability elite sport. That is certainly gratifying.

"We are proud to welcome the likes of New Zealand and Australia to Wales for their preparation camps before going into the Games. Recently, the First Minister announced that the entire Oceanic Paralympic region has committed to coming here, which is great news. They’ll be sure to receive a warm welcome and I’m sure that their stay will be part of a long-term relationship where we can learn lessons from each other.

"Of course there’s always more we can do. In terms of grassroots sport, we’ve set out our stall and declared that the ambition is to get every child in Wales hooked on sport for life. If we’re serious, it means every child – disabled or non-disabled. That is a significant challenge but Disability Sport Wales’ community programme has made huge strides already. They provide around one million grassroots sport opportunities, which is phenomenal.

"And to see the likes of World javelin record holder Nathan Stephens and Aled Sion Davies come through the community programme to being at the top of their game is incredible.

"I’m a firm believer that the sports sector in Wales can all learn from high performance sport. We at Sport Wales need to behave more like our world class athletes – we need to feel pressure, we need to think about the 0.01% which will deliver success, we need to be edgy.

"We’ve just undergone a painful process of reorganization and it’s been difficult, especially for some. But looking at the process positively and constructively, perhaps it helps us to understand the athlete mentality in terms of the ‘no compromise’ approach.

"The reason that Dai Greene, Helen Jenkins and Nathan Stephens have improved is because they are under pressure to achieve. Athletes thrive and flourish in this high challenge environment. We also need to live and breathe this if we are to really raise our game."

Monday, September 26, 2011

Social media - selling sport succesfully

Sport Wales delivered a Social Media Master Class at Colwyn Bay Football Club recently to help up-skill North Wales sports professionals to keep up to speed with the fast paced world of online communications.

PR Officer, Simon Grant was among the organisers of this ‘first-of-its-kind’ event for Sport Wales and here he shares his views about how it all went.

“The best compliment that I’ve received in recent times – and confirmation that we’re doing things right - came exactly one day after we delivered a Social Media Master Class for partners in North Wales. 

"We were keen to host our training session in a sporting environment, away from the confines of the normal public sector offices, and so it seemed apt to base ourselves at Colwyn Bay Football Club – home of Vi-Ability. Award winning social enterprise, Vi-Ability, help young people onto the career ladder using equal parts football and education to give them a much needed foot up.

“Their mobile study centre, adjacent to the Seagull’s clubhouse, was the ideal venue to run a hands-on tutorial session that gave our partners a chance to sit down at a laptop and get stuck into Tweeting and familiarising themselves with Yammer (the social network tool for organisations). Fitting then that we could call on the services of several current Vi-Ability students to help troubleshoot any queries or difficulties with this brave new world of technology that we were unleashing on some people for the very first time!

“More and more of our communications work at Sport Wales is being driven through social network sites including Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Yammer, for internal networking. It’s clearly the future. We realised 18 months ago, when we first delicately dipped our toes in these waters, that we needed to keep right up to date with the latest trends. What started as a bit of an experiment has become an integral part of our day to day business.

"Twitter has become invaluable for us to share good news far and wide; to politicians; media and governing bodies of sport to name but a few. It’s brilliant for getting news out and, more importantly, getting swift feedback. Facebook allows us to do more localised engagement with our communities of sports clubs, athletes and volunteers who follow us. And for sharing great news with colleagues alike, Yammer has grown into the tool of choice for us to keep up to date with what’s going on right across our organisation. That’s no mean feat when you consider the geography! It’s totally changed the way that we work.

“So we decided it was high time to share these great tools with sports professionals from across North Wales to ensure that they’re able to spread the news about all the great sports projects that they’re delivering, often on our behalf. We had a great response, welcoming 25 officers – ranging from Aquatics Officers to Gym Managers – so clearly we’d hit a chord and there was plenty of appetite to learn more. 

"Disability Sport Wales, themselves great exponents of using Twitter especially to shout about all their world-beating results, gave a fantastic presentation about how just a few minutes of Tweeting a day can make all the difference to your public profile. Then we had Vi-Ability themselves explaining, amongst other things, how they had set a challenge for their students to diarise every day of their recent exchange visit to Sweden using Twitter. Finally, we were lucky to secure Helen Reynolds, from Reynolds PR, to give an expert view of social media, to demystify the whole process and show just how easy – and effective – it can be if you’re willing to give it a go.

“The main objective of the day was to get all our audience members signed up to Twitter and tweeting their first messages, as well as signing up to Yammer. Job done! Not only that, some of our audience had freely admitted on arrival that they were barely able to send text messages but by the day’s end their confidence and willingness to go on and use social media as much as possible was really encouraging.

“The feedback that we’ve received has been very positive and we can only hope that we’ll see a lot more sustained activity on Twitter showcasing sport in North Wales. Talking of feedback, that compliment I mentioned earlier came from one of the Vi-Ability students themselves and was directed towards myself and my colleague following all our work with them.

“It read: ‘I really like those two from Sport Wales...dead down to earth and down with the kids so to say!’ That’s exactly how we need to be if we’re to succeed in getting every child in Wales hooked on sport for life. Being ‘down with the kids’ through the power of social media is going to be vital to our success!"

Follow Simon on Twitter @SimonGrantComms and check out our Sport Wales website for all things sport in Wales. 

Friday, September 23, 2011

Commonwealth Mountain and Ultra Distance Championships

The second Commonwealth Mountain and Ultra Distance Championships were held in North Wales on 23-25 September 2011 with over 200 athletes from 24 Commonwealth countries descending on Wales for a festival of international running.

The three event venues of Llandudno (Conwy), Llanberis (Gwynedd) and Newborough Forest (Ynys Mon) played host to a weekend programme of Championship and open races across the disciplines of road, mountain and trail running, targeted at both local athletes and the visiting runners from the UK and beyond.

Welsh Athletics’ Head of Development, Steve Brace, spoke to Sport Wales ahead of the Championships:
“The Welsh Government’s Major Events Unit backed the event to gain profile for Wales and particularly North Wales. Television coverage will go out worldwide and establish Wales as a destination as well as a sporting venue. We’ve secured free to view coverage, with Channel 4 and Eurosport, as well as all the Commonwealth countries.
“The three events themselves are ideally suited to North Wales, which does tend to be under-represented in terms of major events. This is a stepping stone towards staging European and World championships, which is something we’re discussing with UK Athletics. Then there is the engagement with the local community, which should not be underestimated. There is a close club community in North Wales and we are very lucky to have excellent volunteers and local development officers across all the three counties involved.
“Our Welsh runners know the sites, and will have a lot of support on the courses, so hopefully home advantage will help. A lot can go wrong in these long distance races but the Welsh athletes are up for it. Pulling on the Welsh vest on Welsh soil – it doesn’t get better than this. This Championship will be the career highlight for many of these athletes.
“This is the second edition of this Championship (previously staged in Keswick) and it is the ideal event to bring to North Wales - hopefully with a view to integrating into the full Commonwealth Games in the future. It will bring profile to North Wales and upskill many of our officials. So there’s a whole important learning process for us.
“The support that we’ve had from the Welsh Government’s major events unit has been invaluable. We wanted to establish events that were not the norm and the 100km and ultra-distance community is a small body but one that deserves recognition.”
For more information and results from the Championships visit the official website at www.cmudc2011.org.

Welsh International Tackles Coaching

Welsh international scrum-half Richie Rees started his rugby career at Dunvant RFC. He then played for the Ospreys regional team in Wales for two years winning the Magners League in the 04/05 season, before joining London Irish. In 2007 he returned to Wales when he signed for the Cardiff Blues going on to win the EDF Energy Cup in the 08/09 season and the Amlin Challenge Cup in 09/10.

Here, Richie talks about the importance of coaching at both the grassroots and professional levels.

During my experiences, which involve taking part in every team sport and individual sporting activity, I could make my (always willing) parents taxi me to wherever I wanted to go. When I was younger, through to my time now in my 8th season as a professional rugby player, there has always been one constant - a willing coach / teacher / volunteer at the thousands of training sessions undertaken to aide and help improve my ability and make me the best player I could be.

Coaches play a particularly important role in developing children’s sporting abilities or simply increasing a child’s desire to participate in their favored sport, while also mentoring their overall development. Therefore, particular attention needs to be given to recruiting and retaining volunteer coaches. Volunteers are vital for increased sports participation and I feel parents, too, have a responsibility for assisting in their child’s sporting goals, something I was lucky enough to experience.

In my eyes, the most important quality you need to be a successful coach is enthusiasm. I have found that nearly all of the sporting individuals I have played with, at all levels, respond brilliantly to an eager, hard working, honest, knowledgeable leader. Good coaches will concentrate on the specifics of the individual or team and how they can best improve. My first memorable experience of [good coaching] was during my 2nd year of secondary school with my PE teacher, an ex Rugby Player called Trevor Cheeseman. He noticed that I only seemed to pass the ball off my right hand and not my left. This was pointed out to me, worked on, corrected and now ironically means my stronger passing hand is now, my left hand. Had he not recognized this then it might not have been spotted until it was to late, in turn meaning I may well not be doing the job I do now because of the importance of having the ability to pass off both hands as a scrumhalf in Rugby Union.

So, good players / individuals need talent but they also need good coaches and the willing volunteers to give them the opportunity to enjoy their given sporting activity.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Prowood fingerboard back in stock!

Prowood Fingerboard blank deck, Classic shape @$20 each
-Exotic Zebra

Prowood Fingerboard blank deck, Venti Shape @ $22 each

Prowood Fingerboard blank deck, Extreme Shape @ $22 each

Prowood Fingerboard Graphic deck, Classic Shape @ $25 each
-Prowood Logo

Prowood Fingerboard Graphic deck, Classic Shape @ $40 each
-Luck of Irish

Prowood Fingerboard Truck Set @$18 a set

Prowood Fingerboard HP Pro Trucks @ $30 a set

Prowood Fingerboard Unfinished molded deck @ $18 each

Prowood Tuning Kit @ $7

Protape @ $3 each. Classic and Super Thin

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Communities and Clubs Taking Control

Community Asset Transfer can be a daunting prospect for any amateur sports club, but in these times of economic hardship it can certainly be seen as an opportunity.

Jay Probert, Regional Development Coordinator for the Welsh Football Trust highlights some of the simple questions and considerations community groups and clubs must explore to ensure their decisions are fully informed.

Community Asset Transfer (CAT) is when land or buildings are transferred into the stewardship and/or ownership of voluntary and community sector organisations or social enterprises at below market value.

Managing and taking charge of the day-to-day running of facilities helps to empower local communities and can bring opportunities for greater independence and financial sustainability.

Community Asset Transfer is about giving local people and community groups greater control in the future of their area and their community.

If local groups own or manage community buildings, such as community centres or village halls, it can give them a real asset base to support their development. It can also play a part in improving the skills of the people involved and encourage a stronger community spirit by bringing people from different backgrounds together to work towards a shared goal.

Recently, I have been doing some work with Monmouthshire Council, who lease a number of their facilities to sports clubs.

For Bulwark RFC, a full ownership of the facility was not the best approach, so a more phased approach through long-term lease was agreed.

Bulwark Rugby Club will take on responsibility for the playing field formerly leased to Bulwark Football Club and will develop a full size rugby pitch on this land and complete the work to the sports pavilion started by Bulwark Football Club. In return, the rugby club will allow regular access by Chepstow Town Football Club to the Rugby Club’s existing training area for junior football training and playing junior matches. The two clubs will work together to set up an association to promote sport in Chepstow and to provide facilities and programmes of participation for the local community.

So, if you are thinking of going down this route there are several questions that individuals and groups involved should ask:

1.    The asset itself

· What condition is the asset in?
· How old is the facility?
· What is the history of the site?
· Is the asset freehold or leasehold?
· Are there any covenants relating to the land or asset?
· Who currently uses the asset?
· Is the asset appropriate for our club in terms of size/future changing circumstances (growth or reduction in participation)
· Are there any planning permissions or constraints associated with the property (flood plain etc).What are the financial implications?
· Is the venue accessible? How much investment is required to meet current and emerging legislation?
· Are we likely to be capable of maintaining the asset directly?
· What’s included in terms of fixtures/fittings/equipment?

2.    Workforce

· What human resources currently support the operation and what skills/equipment do they have?
· Will any staff be involved/incorporated into in the transfer?

3.    Surrounding location

· Location – what is the proximity to other clubs...to local amenities...to the heart of the community...to schools...to other assets about to be transferred?
· What are the site boundaries and maintenance responsibilities?
· Is parking included – if not where is nearest parking?
· Who are the neighbours?
· Is there any regeneration/investment planned for the area?

4.    Finances

· What is the value of the asset?
· How much does it cost to operate, market and maintain?
· Does the Council wish to achieve savings through the transfer arrangement?
· Who will pay for the legal costs associated with transfer?
· Is there a dowry attached to the transfer?

5.    Other important considerations

· What are the drivers for change within the LA?
· What is the composition of the community?
· What are the crime/health stats?
· Is there anyone else interested in the asset?

For more on the Welsh Football trust visit: http://www.welshfootballtrust.org.uk/ or www.sportwales.org.uk.

Monday, September 19, 2011

New This Week! (Available from 21 Sept)

What the Commonwealth Youth Games means to Wales

Sport Wales' Sarah Powell blogs about the Commonwealth Youth Games - its importance and Team Wales' success.

So what is the CYG?
The Commonwealth Youth Games is as the title suggests - the junior version (14-18yrs) of the Commonwealth Games. This maybe a younger version but don’t be fooled; the standard and competitiveness is as high and fierce as expected when you bring together 64 countries and a 1000 competitors.
Wales was one of the smallest teams with only 31 competitors, but not the smallest. Niue had only one competitor - not sure ‘team’ fits here!  Our usual rivals of Australia and England had teams four times bigger with more than 70 competitors but as you will soon see it’s certainly not size that matters in these things.
So why do Wales take part?
This is the biggest multi sport event for the youth age group and is the stepping stone for athletes aspiring to win Commonwealth medals at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow 2014. This is not just theory, ask  Jazz Carlin, Jemma Lowe and Georgia Davies who all won medals in the CYG in Pune 2008. They then stormed to the podium at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi.
Believe me when I say this, transfer of success is not going to be a one off. Remember the medallists named below as I’m happy to put a bet on them featuring in the medals in Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games. The CYG provides the perfect dry run for athletes, coaches and support staff.  This is the nearest to the real thing that these athletes can get - they experience the build up, the pressure and excitement that is part and parcel of a large multi sport event.
So who’s Team Wales?
This is made up of athletes, coaches, team managers, physio, doctors, media and members of the Commonwealth Games Council for Wales. The Commonwealth Games Council for Wales  is the internationally recognised organisation that selects and delivers the team at the Games.  Superbly organised, experienced and committed, they leave no stone unturned in pre-games preparation and games delivery to make sure the team has no distractions and gets what they need to be successful.  The team spirit and camaraderie that is built up amongst the competitors and support staff certainly give Team Wales that extra edge.
So what happened?

With only 31 athletes, Wales won 26 medals. It makes for an impressive ratio of medals won v no of competitors .  Wales competed in 6 of the 7 sports involved: athletics, badminton, boxing, cycling, gymnastics and swimming. We did extremely well in all the sports missing out in the quarter finals of the badminton and then winning medals in boxing, swimming, cycling, athletics and gymnastics.
This reinforces not only the depth of talent but also that it is diverse across the sports. If you look at medals on a per head of population basis, then we top the table. There are too many medallists to mention but we started with athletics gold on day one in the 1500m and finished with a swimming gold on the last day in the last event - the men's 4 x 200m freestyle relay. 

 It would be remiss of me not to mention the family and friends of all the competitors that travelled out to support individual athletes but also the whole of Team Wales. The power of this cannot be underestimated and the number of Personal Bests reflects this.
So what next
Well for those that tasted success and you are many, enjoy! Remember and crave this again, as winning will hopefully become a habit. For those not so successful this time, remember that selection is a great achievement. Use this as the opportunity to train that little bit harder, or believe in yourself that little bit more because you were there for a reason, because you have the potential.
The talent in Wales is proven. It’s now down to you and your support teams to take that to the next level and deliver success at senior level.
For the sports themselves, what could be better than two home games, London 2012 Olympics and Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games. A once in a lifetime experience, let’s ensure we maximise every opportunity to show off what in my view is the most amazing product in the world – sport. Be assured the next CYG athletes will be watching!
The medals:
Gold - Ieuan Lloyd 200m freestlye
Gold - Ieuan Lloyd 200m IM
Gold - Ffion Price 1500m athletics
Gold - Angel Romaeo individual all-around gymnastics
Gold - 4x200m mens freestyle relay - Ieuan Lloyd, Oliver Tennant, Lewis Smith, Dan Woods

Silver - Sara Lougher 50m Breaststroke
Silver - Ieuan Lloyd 100m freestyle
Silver - 4x200 girls freestyle
Silver - Carys Mansfield javelin
Silver - Calum Evans boxing
Silver - Owain Doull Road Race
Silver - Elinor Barker Criterium
Silver - Raer Theaker, Beam
Silver - Raer Theaker, Bars
Silver - Cycling girls team in time trial
Silver - Girls gymnastics team event

Bronze - Josh John boxing
Bronze - Mitch Buckland boxing
Bronze - Elinor Barker time trial
Bronze - Girls team in road race
Bronze - Boys team in road race
Bronze - 4x100m freestyle relay girls
Bronze - Sian Morgan 400m freestyle
Bronze - Ieuan Lloyd 400m freestyle
Bronze - Harry Owen gymnastics individual all around
Bronze - Angel Romaeo bronze vault

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Oops, I did it again!

Übers Joggen muss man einfach bloggen! : )
This post is about my first jogging  day. Look at the pictures and you'll see how much I liked it!!! (By the way, in Germany it is required  by the comic-artists union to do Yoga and Jogging!)

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

How sports clubs can learn from the business world

To paraphrase Charles Darwin, it is not the biggest, toughest, physically strongest, or most athletic that survive but rather those who adapt and develop in difficult times. Applying this thought to sports clubs and to sport in general  - what can we learn from business that will make sport more visible, vibrant and viable?
 In our latest blogpost, Gordon Clark of Sport Wales poses 7 questions to clubs:
·         Does your club have a fundraising strategy that is not reliant on grants? A strong, healthy business must generate profit to survive. Profit is not a dirty word rather it is essential if clubs are to continue to offer healthy community opportunities.

·         What can you do to increase your range of income streams? Have you considered corporate social leagues or tournaments, car boot sales, regular keep fit sessions in your clubhouse etc? A business that has a diverse range of income streams or product lines can better survive a downturn if there is a particular dip in one particular area. 

·         Is your club visible in the local community and beyond? The day of the poster is dead so what is your club doing to raise its profile and encourage new members? Businesses are committing significant resource to maximising the impact of social media marketing. Clubs can do the same – are you putting yourself out there via Facebook and Twitter etc?

·         Do you know who your competitors are and is your offer better value? Customers have the choice to purchase goods and services from other suppliers and this is the same for joining clubs - especially when there is a number of similar clubs nearby, jostling for the same market.

·         Is the experience that your members receive better than that of the competition? Sports clubs are in the experience business so what experience does a parent and child have when they turn up for the first time? Is any thought given to how you can convert this initial contact into a regular purchase / member or is it just expected?
  • Does your club have a club development plan? Planning ahead is vital to building a sustainable sports club as much as any business. If the club committee does not have a clear plan for the future and the membership does not have a clear understanding, how will you take advantage of any opportunities that arise? 
What should be added to this list? Let us know what you think...and while you're at it, you might want to look at our club resources

How to be a great captain

Welsh golfer Nigel Edwards has just captained the GB & Ireland team to victory at the 2011 Walker Cup.
In our latest guest blog, he shares his key success factors that he shared with the team before they went on to triumph on the Balgownie Links of Royal Aberdeen Golf Club.
·         Golf is more often than not an individual sport. When we come together it’s important to build that team spirit.
·         I stress with the players that each person has an effect on the team so it is important to have a positive attitude
·         I make sure that the different pairings  socialise and spend time in each other’s company
·         Everyone has to be part of the team. The players need to feel part of the team. The very best players in the team have a role to play as well as those players who aren’t playing so well. Those playing well have a responsibility to lead the team and support those not playing so well and likewise those not playing so well have to support the others.
·         A player is rested not dropped – the players and management need to understand this process. The player that is rested has to support and cheer on the others for the good of the team. One player cannot win the Walker Cup. However, one player can ensure the team loses the Walker Cup.
·         Egos have to be left at the door – players will not always be able to do what they want to do. They won’t be able to practice on their time frame.
·         I ask players to play their own game and not to do anything different to any other week.
·         Expect your opponents to play well and hit good shots, expect them to hole putts but don’t be in awe.
·         Fit in to the team, accept you will have to do “other” things, this is not just about YOU.
·         I don’t expect any whingeing or complaints – whether it’s about hotel, food, missed putts etc

·         Handle the nerves, don’t be afraid of them, everyone will be nervous so be prepared for them and DEAL with them when they come. Accept the facts and hit one shot at a time and don’t get caught up in what’s going on around you.
·         Don’t let selectors and outside influences affect your play. Embrace it and prove your qualities.
·         Nerves help you to focus.
·         Nerves bring a clarity of thought.
·         Golf is not a game of Perfect by Dr Bob Rotella.
·         Discipline is being able to do simple things day after day, week after week, year after year.
·         Discipline is key to any professional athlete – training, nutrition, practice etc
·         Just focuses on the target
·         A great attitude is key to success – before, during and after a round or tournament.
·         Stick to your routine on every shot.
·         You should be fresh to go when you wake up.
·         This week will be one of the greatest experiences of your lives. You are in a very privileged position of being a Walker Cup player.
·         I want you all to have a great week, this is a really enjoyable experience and I have been privileged to have been part of four teams, two winning teams and I can honestly say that you will look back on this week with great memories. Friends you make on the opposing team and friends you make through golf.
·         There will be thousands of people out there wishing and wanting you to do well and wanting you to hit great golf shots, hole long putts and be successful.
·         Lads ENJOY this wonderful experience.
What do you think? How do you inspire and prepare a team?