Friday, March 22, 2013

Leading the Leaders, by Rob Guy

Rob Guy from Sports Leaders UK takes a look at an amazing year for sports leadership in Wales. 

2012 was a special year in the sporting heart of our nation for many reasons, with top flight football and a Welsh rugby Grand Slam, watching Jade Jones throw off her taekwondo headguard in delight at winning Gold, or the pride in hosting the very first event of the Olympic Games at the Millennium Stadium.

This top level sport did put a spotlight on grassroots sport, volunteering and the benefits of physical activity. I’ve been fortunate enough to have been involved for the past 10 years in developing Sports Leadership programmes and initiatives in Wales for Sports Leaders UK.

Take the story of April Morgan. She was a student in Ebbw Vale Comprehensive School who was not keen on sport, but in 2010 she started on a Sports Leadership pathway in Blaenau Gwent. April has been such an inspiration with her commitment to volunteering in sport that she was a finalist at the 2012 Sport Wales Coach of the Year Award for Young Volunteer Coach of the Year. This is one story of many - and the statistics speak for themselves.

More than 7600 young people trained as Sports Leaders in Wales in 2012 and they in turn volunteer with tens of thousands more and help inspire the next Jade Jones.

More recently Sports Leaders UK has also been working with the Wales Council for Voluntary Action, which led to the launch of the Millennium Volunteers MV50 Sport Award though Gwirvol. This programme is very important to Sports Leaders UK because it recognises sustained volunteering by young people in sport as they have to complete 50 hours. They are then signposted on to the MV 100 and MV 200 Awards. For me this means mobilisation of Sports Leaders and a big step towards getting every child hooked on sport for life. Just over a year after the launch we have had 250 young people achieve the MV Sport Award which equates to over 10,000 hours volunteered in school and community sport. Of those that have achieved their MV Sport Award, 90 have gone on to achieve their MV 100 Award and 21 their MV200 Award. But I know this is the tip of the iceberg in terms of young people volunteering in sport and in year two of the award we are looking to get 2012 young people achieving the MV Sport Award which will represent a true legacy from London 2012.

Another big step in 2012 has been the roll out of the Bronze Young Ambassador programme linked to the Young Leader Award. By starting the Leadership Continuum at a young age, we are encouraging people in Wales to get used to volunteering in sport and to develop the confidence to involve others in physical activity. This feeds into higher level leadership programmes and higher level Young Ambassadors.

2012 has also seen the launch of a partnership between Sports Leaders UK and Welsh National Governing Bodies of Sport to create Sports Specific Leaders Awards which help underpin the coaching infrastructure in Wales. This work has required a lot of joined up thinking but has resulted in a seamless link between the Active Young People Organiser Award, which is awarded by Sports Leaders UK on behalf of Sport Wales, The Sports Leaders UK Leadership Awards and the Sports Specific Leadership Awards. It also means that people in Wales can start organising sports specific activities from the age of 13 upwards which, for example, Welsh Gymnastics has found to be fantastic in terms of workforce development.

One of the most rewarding aspects of my job is to work with like-minded organisations to offer opportunities to target audiences who might otherwise not be able to access Sports Leadership, such as Street Football Wales, Positive Futures Newport and StreetGames projects. Sport Wales has been instrumental in bringing us all together to impact on the Child Poverty Strategy and coordinating our organisations for the good of young people in Wales. This fantastic working relationship and partnership with Sport Wales culminated in Sport Wales being presented with the Sports Leaders UK Presidents Cup for outstanding commitment to Sports Volunteering in 2012.

I am looking forward to a very exciting 2013 which includes our first ever Sports Leadership and Volunteering conference which covers the five counties of Gwent and is being hosted by the University of Wales Newport.
Rob Guy

National Manager Sports Leaders UK