National conference benefits dual career practitioners

A TASS athlete and alumni panel discussed their experiences of being a student athlete (Credit: Sports Beat)

The TASS network of higher education institutions, national governing bodies and performance sport practitioners gathered in Birmingham on 8-9 May 2019 for the TASS Strategy Day and Conference.

More than 150 sport professionals from across England came together to learn from experts in their field, transfer knowledge and share best practice in order to develop support for the country’s most talented young athletes.

Coinciding with the scheme’s milestone 15th anniversary year, the conference saw TASS returning to the venue of the inaugural network event in 2004, which was launched by the then Sports Minister, Richard Caborn.

“The TASS Strategy Day and Conference provided a rare opportunity for the entire TASS network of Delivery Sites, NGBs and practitioners to come together under one roof,” explained Kirsty Field, TASS Lead for Institutions.

“It was invaluable to have the chance to aid communication between the various stakeholders that support our dual career athletes, as well as being able to take part in networking and make new connections”.

Ralph Appleby, TASS Practitioner Development Lead, added: “With the conference, we aimed to achieve a mix of keynote speakers, discipline specific sessions and provide a platform for sharing ideas and best practice between practitioners.”

Renowned athletics coach Toni Minichiello opened day two of the event with an insightful and entertaining presentation about nurturing talent and an athlete’s relationship with their support team. Later in the programme, triple Olympic medallist Kelly Sotherton discussed athletes’ rights from the perspective of both an athlete and a coach.

Toni Minichiello was a keynote speaker at the 2019 TASS Conference (Credit: Sports Beat)

The conference also included a choice of multi-disciplinary workshops from experts covering a diverse range of topics – from mental health pathways, to developing resilience in student athletes and the relationship between food trends and an athlete’s performance.

Imogen Greatbatch is Performance Sport and Business Development Manager at the University of Manchester and attended both days of the event. Speaking at the conference, she explained: “It’s fantastic that we’re here with practitioners, national governing bodies and the other universities.”

“Yesterday we all made a pledge about what we’ll do moving forward and mine was to ‘champion the holistic delivery model by working in partnership with the different stakeholders to ensure we give the best experience to athletes.”

Paul Harrison attended the conference to represent a national governing body in his role as a part of the FA Talent Pathway for para-football. He said:

“Day one was about the dual pathway, linking in the demands of the student on a performance programme and looking at it from the perspective of the university, the student and the governing body.

“We’re all aiming to get a better understanding about the other partners in the journey for athlete,” he added.

For more information about the CPD opportunities for the TASS network, please contact Ralph Appleby