Why Weight To Develop Career?

The TASS CPD fund is enabling sport practitioners across the country to upskill and reboot as the post-lockdown era gathers pace. We talked to two members of the TASS community who feel the additional financial support is worth its weight in gold.

When British Weightlifting announced it was moving its entry level courses online earlier this summer it was as if a collective load had been lifted from the shoulders of previously hesitant practitioners.

The rush to sign up for the virtual sessions revealed an appetite for lockdown learning and a realisation that the temporary cessation of sporting activity was no barrier to acquiring new skills and cementing a stronger future.

“The chance to do the weightlifting course came at just the right time,” explained Dan Pyke, Strength and Conditioning Coach at Manchester Metropolitan University. “We’ve wanted to create a weightlifting club for some time and we still plan to do that from September.

“Weightlifting is going to become a BUCS sport so it’s a great opportunity for us to reach out to different athletes and athletes who wouldn’t necessarily get involved in the traditional team sports.

“It’s certainly upskilled our knowledge and, if nothing else, it refreshes our techniques and gives us an insight into all of the little intricacies of how the coaches operate and how the model of British Weightlifting works.

“I was going to do the course anyway so for TASS to fund it for me is brilliant. I know the athletes will benefit from the fact that I’ve done the course and I’m hoping that some of them take a genuine interest in the sport and take it further.”

Dan’s enthusiasm for British Weightlifting’s well-received online delivery is echoed by fellow TASS practitioner Rob Nitman. Sport Brighton’s Performance Sport and Fitness Officer doubled up on his lifting expertise after tapping into his allocated £400 CPD funding and added: “It was a fantastic opportunity.


Rob Nitman (left) and Dan Pyke (right)

“About two days before I completed the Level 1 coursework, British Weightlifting announced they were making the Level 2 course available online too and so I used my TASS CPD funding for that.

“There’s nobody at Brighton University who holds those qualifications. Learning the Olympic lifts could be really beneficial to a number of student athletes and it gives them a great perspective on lifting at that level.

“It could help them in terms of their future careers and moving on to different settings and environments. The knowledge I can pass on will help our students stay one step ahead.”

Both Dan and Rob recognise the enduring value of CPD and are keen to encourage fellow TASS practitioners to tap into an invaluable resource.

I’ve always been a big believer in CPD,” added Rob. “The only downside with it at this at this point in time is that, depending on the type of CPD you choose to do, you might miss out on the networking opportunities.

“But Ralph [Appleby, National Lead – Practitioner Development] and the TASS team have kept everyone connected during lockdown so that’s filled the gap.

“I just see accessing the TASS CPD fund as a no-brainer. If there’s an opportunity to go on a course you wanted to do anyway – and now you’re going to do it for free – why wouldn’t you? It’s an opportunity for personal development, it’s an opportunity to better your institution and you might even get a pay rise out of it!”

Dan, who has persuaded colleagues within Manchester Metropolitan’s sport department to explore the full range of CPD opportunities available through TASS, believes there’s never been a better time to upskill

“Coronavirus has caused so many problems but the increase in online delivery of courses has been a positive.

“I think it was three or four months to get onto the physical weightlifting course so I was preparing for a long wait.

“I was probably looking at six to nine months before I could achieve both qualifications.

“I agree that not having the practical element – and not being in a position to interact and benefit from that face to face contact – is a downside.

“But I also think, given that this is more of a technical qualification, it works fine online.”

Both Dan and Rob are approaching an uncertain future with confidence and both are working around the clock to ensure student athletes have the best possible opportunity to progress once the new academic year gets underway.

“We’ve actually recruited eight different volunteers internally who were looking at becoming early stage S&C coaches,” explained Dan. “They’re going to do a lot of delivery on site to all of the different teams and the TASS athletes in Manchester.

“We’re able to upskill them through online courses and lectures so that when everyone is back we’re in a better position to try to deliver as much as we were doing before lockdown.”

Rob admits that the post-coronavirus transition has been tough to navigate but believes the future is bright at Brighton.

“It still feels very strange in many respects,” he added. “Going through a 24-hour period where we were told we might close at the end of the week to being told we had to pack up our stuff and leave was difficult to deal with.

“Then there was the adjustment to working from home. Lots of things changed very fast. “But I feel Sport Brighton made the adjustment quite well and we made it as smooth a process as possible for the students affected.

“Having said that, the next few months from September through to December look like they’ll be particularly challenging. It looks like BUCS aren’t planning an immediate return to competitive sport and that will affect a lot of students.

“There are students who are only interested in the competitive nature of sport and without that they may drift away. Our primary focus is on ensuring those students remain engaged in programmes so that, once competitive sport does resume, we have enough athletes to field teams.”

For more information on the TASS CPD fund visit www.tass.gov.uk/practitioners