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Coaching in the Spotlight

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Column as seen in Athletics Weekly magazine by Mike Harris – Coaches representative UK Athletics Members Council



It is now just over two years since I was elected as Coaches Representative on the UK Members Council and an appropriate time to give some feedback to the people who voted myself and the other volunteer reps onto the Council.


In those two years, the sport has appointed a new Chairman, a new Chief Executive and the Vice President, a key person on the Council, has departed. Additionally a new Athlete Representative has recently been appointed. This has meant it has taken time for the Council to achieve some stability. We seem to have that now and the Council is beginning to function as the forum for discussion I envisaged when first elected.


Council members include the President of UKA Lynn Davies in his role as Chairman, my fellow volunteer reps ( Stan Burton, Keith May, Bill Adcocks and Graham Jessop ), the Chairpersons of each of the Home Countries and Athlete Representative Helen Clitheroe.  Ed Warner and Niels de Vos are in regular attendance.


The Council meetings are held quarterly and it is at these meetings that the volunteer reps hear at first hand where the sport is heading. Perhaps more importantly it is also an opportunity for the volunteer reps to raise and discuss those issues which affect the grass roots of the sport and the people we represent.


We have been made to feel welcome and are encouraged to raise issues, place items on the agenda and “ grill “ the sports` decision-makers.


A major concern of the volunteer reps is how to communicate with all the people we represent. This article is part of that but we are looking at other ways.


Coaching is in the spotlight once again. The appointment of Charles van Commenee and Bob Weir have grabbed the headlines but it is the soon-to-be appointed Head of Coaching and Development that the vast majority of coaches should be waiting for with interest. It is this person who will formulate the strategy that will affect every coach in the country. The many letters in AW, including some from our most respected coaches, lamenting the state of coach education have only served to highlight what a hugely important area this is.


Although UKA are responsible for devising coaching strategy, England Athletics ( and the other home countries ) are a key partner in framing that strategy and ultimately for delivering and implementing it. EA`s Head of Coaching ( also recently appointed ) has produced a Vision Statement for Coach Development ( see the EA website ) but progress is dependent upon the two respective bodies working together.


No matter how quickly the governing bodies move, it will take some time before any changes to the coach education system take effect and even longer before we see the benefits. However my involvement with the Council has encouraged me to believe that there is now a genuine commitment from all to improve all aspects of coaching in the UK.


I can be contacted at traffordac@tiscali.co.uk

Mike Harris