Two new Talent Hubs, based at University of Birmingham and Leeds Beckett University, are now up-and-running to support the next generation of talented athletes, their coaches and the wider club community.
The scheme is the result of a collaboration between England Athletics and British Athletics, who have restructured their Talent Pathways, along with the two universities, London Marathon Events and TASS (Talented Athlete Scholarship Scheme). TASS will benefit the scheme by providing additional Performance Support services and quality assurance.
England Athletics is hosting a series of free webinars, starting Monday 1 June, tailored to athletes, parents, coaches and club contacts who want to find out more about the Talent Hub scheme. Click here to view the webinar schedule and register free.
The Talent Hubs are part of an 18-month pilot scheme activated from late 2019, within the UK-wide Talent Pathway, designed to support athletes (aged primarily between 17-23) and their coaches but also to provide a link between the talent/performance pathways and wider athletics and club community.
The aspiration is that the Talent Hubs will become centres where athletes and coaches can benefit from excellent support but also that the wider club community is served through coach education and development, and that club officials and volunteers can be supported. Representation on the advisory group from local clubs or regional councils is being put in place so that the Talent Hubs can support the growth of the whole sport, not least by strengthening the performance of athletes in the club environment.
With Birmingham and Leeds now live, in light of the Covid-19 outbreak, parts of the programmes have been adapted into virtual, online based activity and e-learning to ensure the ongoing support for athletes and coaches with safe activity at this challenging time. Longer term the dual career aspects (education and athletics) and the support offered on the programmes will be delivered at the university hubs with fully accredited staff and resources.
Martin Rush, Head of Coaching and Athlete Development at England Athletics, said: “We are really excited to see the development of our talent work and establish two important partnerships. Working in partnership has enabled us to launch a comprehensive support package for a tiered series of athletic programmes that have been identified in the talent areas.
“The five-year programme will support and challenge athletes and their coaches with the aim of helping them fulfil their talent, progress to national, and international honours and potentially, onto the world class programme run by British Athletics. We aim, over time, to refine and develop the support available through the Talent Hubs. We will build on the expertise on offer and create hubs of activity to support talented athletes, their coaches and the wider athletics club and school community”
Dan Wagner, Performance Pathway Manager at British Athletics, said: “We are thrilled with the launch of the Talent Hubs at Leeds Beckett and Birmingham, as they play a key part of providing a dual career pathway for athletes and additional support for coaches. Through the collaboration with the Home Countries and key partners such as the universities, London Marathon Events and TASS, it’s our ambition to provide holistic support to athletes, coaches and parents and ensure they all have a seamless experience through the performance pathway, and to ultimately fulfil ambitions of success on the international stage.”
Speaking for University of Birmingham, Luke Gunn, University Head of Athletics & Talent Hub Manager, said: “The University of Birmingham is delighted to be at the forefront of this new initiative to offer a huge opportunity for athletes across all event disciplines. We have long been passionate about aiding junior talent transition onto senior success; now with the enormous help of all the parties above we can kick this up another gear.”
Leeds Beckett University Talent Hub Manager, Dr Andi Drake, said: “We are delighted that Leeds Beckett University has been selected to become one of the first Talent Hubs and are excited by the opportunity to deliver this programme. Our aim is to build a network with local athletics clubs, schools and universities. Alongside this, we will continue to provide a high-quality performance development environment for a selected group of athletes and coaches, with a professional coaching structure in place.
“The scheme will also help support athletes with sport science and medicine provision. It will provide an education and learning programme to help athletes establish a dual career pathway through their journey at Leeds Beckett University”.