England Athletics, working in collaboration with British Athletics, has launched the Junior Talent Programme application process for 2021.
From school into club athletics and parallel support through the pathway programmes, the aim is to ensure the journey of the athlete and coach reaches its full potential. Athletics is an inclusive and diverse sport that provides excitement, challenge and lifelong enjoyment. Supporting talented individuals and the wider athletics club community through pathway programmes and talent hubs is the vision. In 2021 England Athletics and UK Athletics will have two pilot talent hubs in operation.
The introduction of talent hubs provides another level of support for JTP athletes and their coaches as well as local clubs. Two pilot Talent Hubs have been established and supported by British Athletics and England Athletics in Leeds and Birmingham. The aim is to support athletes and coaches manage the transition from youth to senior success. These will be supported with national event group and specific activity.
Following completion of the Youth Talent Programme (YTP) or through direct selection, English athletes, aged 18+ years, will be given the opportunity to transition onto the Junior Talent Programme (JTP). The aim is to sustain the contact with all athletes (and their coaches) after the YTP but at different levels of support, dependent on their performance progression and profile.
As athletes transition (from college or sixth form) to further education, seek employment or aim to become a professional athlete, the programme aims to add value to the athlete and coach plan, to help develop a broad range of skills, abilities and behaviours needed for senior success. This is delivered through practical training sessions with likeminded athletes in their event group, performance support sessions and workshops. There is also the opportunity for coaches to access additional qualifications, mentoring and support delivered through the England Athletics Talent Event Leads.
Athletes who have been supported by the programme on previous intakes include European U23 Finalist in the High Jump, Joel Clarke-Khan, and European U20 finalist in the Hammer, Charlotte Payne.
Joel said, “Personally, I have found that the JTP and talent hub has been extremely helpful on my journey to success. Having access to therapists, medical professionals, and other coaches has created a team and network that allows me to received professional help in all areas. I have already seen brilliant results from the support the JTP/talent hub has provided me with, and I believe this is only the beginning.”
Charlotte said, “The Junior Talent Programme was a really exciting step that helped us to develop our knowledge and ability in my event whilst also strengthening our coach - athlete partnership. The programme is a great opportunity to network and meet athletes and coaches from all events and I always left each camp with a list of things I wanted to improve, feeling motivated and buzzing for the next training session. My coach also found it useful to have another perspective on my technique including those of some of the best coaches in the country!”
The selection process is split across four stages:
- Stage 1: Athlete/Coach application
- Stage 2: Selection panel
- Stage 3: Selection Confirmation
- Stage 4: Induction.
Speaking about the programme, Darren Ritchie, Event Group Lead for Jumps and Combined Events at England Athletics, said:
“I’m really pleased that applications for the Junior Talent Programme are open. This programme will add extra support to athletes and their personal coach as they continue on their journey to higher level performance. The Junior talent programme will provide athletes and coaches the opportunity to train in performance development environments as they work towards reaching their potential at senior level, whether that is competing in the Olympics, Commonwealth Games, England Team Internationals or representing and performing for their club to a high level.”
The Junior Talent Programme has been developed in line with the joint vision for the sport outlined in the An Athletic Nation document. The document specifically references Talent Development and seeks to ensure that every athlete and coach has a clear pathway to elite performance. This includes: establishing a clear, safe and transparent system of talent identification and development for all athletes; building strong partnerships with clubs, universities and colleges to support the welfare and development of talented athletes; supporting clubs to develop opportunities for talented home-country athletes to compete at international level; ensuring coach development opportunities reflect and match those for the development of athletes enabling a clear pathway for coaches to grow with athletes and aspire to elite levels of coaching.