THE TRACKING OF YOUNG SPORTSMEN AND WOMEN FROM SCHOOL TO UNIVERSITY
Nottingham / Great Britain: December 3-5, 2004
By means of the Conference representatives from various European Nations were afforded the opportunity of learning good practice in different countries. The introduction of such good practise will develop stable working partnerships between school sport and University sport sectors.
Introduction (description and objectives)
Of serious concern to many European nations is the loss of young athletes, from sport, between leaving school and entering further and higher education. Within the school sector the organisation is extremely well structured and the young individual is guided through training and competition. On leaving the protective environment of the school however many athletes are either unwilling or unable to accept the personal responsibility necessary to continue an involvement in sport. Many thousands therefore simply fall by the wayside and no longer pursue a healthy and active lifestyle.
Across Europe different countries have adopted different initiatives to redress this loss. It was the intention of the British Universities Sports Association to organise a conference, at which presentations would be made by a number of countries detailing these different initiatives.
The objective of the Conference was to share the experience and best practice of various European nations so that delegates can learn and adapt systems to their own national situation.
Presentation of background/preparatory work
The Association had been working with the Youth Sports Trust on a project to track young sports administrators who have achieved the Community Sports Leaders Awards, from School to University. The drop out rate in sport amongst school leavers is well publicised in Great Britain and this conference provided the ideal opportunity to gain knowledge and experience from our counterparts across Europe.
The project was very relevant to the partnership between educational institutions and sport. As previously stated, whilst in the school sector young athlete take very little responsibility for their sport development, within higher education they must assume total responsibility. The move between one and the other can often prove traumatic and by educating the youngster to adopt a more positive attitude toward life skills and planning, the drop out role from sport could be significantly reduced.
BUSA is a founding member of the European University Sports Association, the Associations counterparts across Europe were contacted to assess their current “tracking systems” and to ascertain the arrangements that are in place in other countries. From this information countries were selected and asked if they would be willing to make a presentation to the seminar on the tracking of young athletes within their country.
The event was advertised amongst BUSA members, BUSA volunteers, National Governing Bodies, and the Home Nations and UK Sports Councils.
The event entitled “The tracking of young sportsmen and women from school to University” took place at the University of Nottingham from the 2 - 4 December 2004.
The seminar was attended by 70 individuals from 25 nations, National Governing Bodies including The Football Association and England Squash, Directors of Sport and representatives from BUSA Sports Management Groups. A full list of attendees is attached (Appendix 1).
The value of the event was the exchange of ideas on how tracking systems can work and enable mentors within higher education to identify young school athletes entering the tertiary sector and to guide and assist those athletes as necessary. The retention of athletes within the sport is the life blood of sports organisations and thus such organisations are likely to become partners in any tracking system.
Presentations were made by the National Manager for the Talented Athlete Scholarship Scheme in England, explaining the scheme that has recently been introduced in conjunction with the Department of Culture, Media and Sport. In addition to this a presentation by the Director of Sport from the University of Birmingham and the Director of Development and from England Squash, giving examples of how Universities and National Governing Bodies can work together to track athletes and give them educational opportunities.
Presentations from Europe were made by representatives from Germany, Portugal and Ireland, providing information on a wide variety of tracking systems that are in place.
Seminar packs included the agenda for the day and the biographies of all of the speakers, information pertaining to the European Universities Sports Association and information on the venue and were distributed on arrival to all delegates. Although unable to attend the Minister for Sport, Richard Cabourne sent a message of support to the Seminar.
Main findings/How the objectives were met
From the presentations it was clear that a number of different structures and organisations are in place to track young athletes across Europe. The seminar provided the opportunity for all members to discuss the merits and disadvantages of the structures that had been presented to them.
From the seminar the continued liaison with the Schools Sport Association and National Governing Bodies regarding the overlapping of databases tracking young sports men and women should be explored. This is something that the current BUSA website providers may be able to assist with as they already have an athlete profile database system.
It is imperative that recognition is given to ways in which young athletes can be encouraged to continue their participation in sport once they leave school.
BUSA ( ... )