What is the role of the TASS Athletes’ Advisory Group?


A select group of TASS athletes got together for their second meeting of the year this week as a part of their duties in the TASS Athletes’ Advisory Group – or TAAG for short.

Chaired by talented swimmer and Chemical Engineering undergraduate, Amber Keegan, the body was formed to represent the community of 600 student athletes on the TASS programme.

But who is in the TAAG and what does it do? Alison Brown, TASS National Lead for Athlete Support and Governance, was the driving force behind its creation and oversees the group’s operation.

Here Alison explains the purpose of the advisory group and why its work is at the core of TASS’s success as a leading dual career support programme.

The TAAG acts as the ‘voice’ of TASS athletes. Please could you explain what this means?

The group aims to find out what is working well – and not so well – in terms of both TASS support and life as a dual career athlete in general. Acting as a forum to collect information from the athletes themselves, the TAAG provides a great opportunity for them to speak openly with each other, share ideas and provide feedback directly to TASS.

How does the group represent the TASS-supported athletes on the programme this year?

TAAG members have been chosen from a variety of backgrounds, sports and TASS Delivery Sites as we aim to have a wide representation – and therefore perspective – of TASS athletes. We’d also encourage all athletes on the scheme to give feedback and suggestions to current TAAG members to help ensure that the athlete voice is heard from as many individuals as possible.

Why is it important for TASS to have a group that gives athletes the chance to have an input?

It is vital that athletes feel that their concerns and ideas are able to be shared and are being listened to. The TAAG also provides a great personal development opportunity for its members: seeking input from others, conducting meetings, providing feedback and being involved in a number of associated events and projects can all help build the personal skills and experience that both sport and future employers value.

How is the TAAG beneficial to TASS in the development of its dual career support programme?

Didn’t Einstein say something about trying the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result?! It’s important to hear if the nature of the support is hitting the mark and if not, we can look to improve and strengthen the service we provide. We need the input of the end user, the athlete, to help us better meet their requirements.

Since the TAAG formed three years ago, how has it developed and what is its focus in 2019?

The move towards a more informal format, and interaction between members outside of meetings are pleasing to see. We have also introduced joint sessions with practitioners, which give members the chance to provide ideas and suggestions directly to staff. Alongside reviewing athlete resources and attending events, work in 2019 will continue to focus on engaging with the wider TASS athlete community.

This is a forum for athletes, run by athletes, and should be as open and honest as possible.

The current TAAG members, their sport and TASS Delivery Sites are:
  • Billy Shepherd / Fencing / University of Nottingham
  • Eva Borrowdale / Volleyball / Sheffield Hallam University
  • Grace Macdonald / Rowing / Oxford Brookes University
  • Issa Batrane / Beach Volleyball / Bournemouth University
  • Lucy Robinson / Wheelchair Basketball / Sheffield Hallam University
  • Rebecca Wilde / Rowing / University of Bath

If you’re a TASS athlete and are interested in the joining the TAAG next year, please look out for the recruitment process beginning from September 2019.

If you’d like any further information about the TAAG in the meantime, or would like to contact Alison, Amber or another member of the group, please email info@tass.gov.uk.