18th August 2008
As week one of the Beijing Olympics Games got into full swing, the Young Leaders Camp at Bradfield College near Reading provided a multi sports gathering of its own. One hundred and sixty young leaders from four sports, including athletics, gathered for three days of intensive training and workshops.
Welcome messages from England Rugby team coach Martin Johnson and Olympic gymnast Beth Tweddle, who is currently competing in Beijing, greeted attendees.
The programme was designed to give the very best tools in a number of different areas of expertise as they look to develop as the coaches, officials, administrators and athletes that service their sports for the future.
The residential camp took advantage of the exceptional facilities on offer at Bradfield College, to run a series of workshops, seminars and practical sessions, which was officially opened on 11 August.
Emphasis was placed on developing transferable skills, in an informal learning environment. Session included coaching, officiating, club management, administration, team building, sports psychology and leading young athletes.
Attendees on the three day camp received guidance and advice on how to continue in their roles, as well as information on the opportunities that will become available when the pace quickens to get ready to greet over 200 nations in 2012 for the Olympic Games in London.
The young people were also supervised and guided into the development of their own personal action plans, which highlighted the areas of improvement, development, goals and future opportunities.
Stuart Attwell, who was coordinating the camp on behalf of UK Athletics said after a highly successful three days:
"Feedback from Young Leaders attending was the that the week was a huge success and a great opportunity for Young Leaders to come together and develop their leadership skills. We are keen to encourage this level of activity and hope to run similar events in the future."
Stuart Attwell also added; "We're keen to work with selected regions to establish follow on activity at a regional level."
Hollie Ayres, who attended the camp and won an award during the team activities said:
"It was a really good experience and a great chance to learn and develop new skills. I particularly enjoyed the sports psychology sessions."
One of the enduring themes of the 2012 Olympics is legacy and sustainability, as well as the a focus on the youth of the world, something that was a core value of Olympism when Baron Pierre de Coubertin founded the movement in the 19th century, and creating a legacy, a sustainable legacy, for the youth of Great Britain was apparent in the Young Leaders camp earlier this week.
The concept of Young Leaders is an important vein running through a lot of the volunteer, coach and official development opportunities currently being offered to individuals in sport. Young Leaders, most of which are in full time education, are now being empowered with the tools they need in earnest to prepare them for the opportunities ahead. With that empowerment, it is then envisaged that their experiences and components are passed down to other young individuals through sports and after school clubs and associations.
The Young Leaders Camp has a sustainable legacy baked in, where the ripples will be being felt in the athletics clubs and colleges up and down the country in the season and new school year to come. Slipping under the radar when our Chinese hosts are showing that developing and equipping volunteers really makes a difference, the work to re-invigorate the UK's defining generation of officials, coaches, club administrators and volunteers has begun.