TAAG Team Ready To Tackle 2021

They’re the like-minded sport leaders charged with setting the agenda for TASS athletes nationwide.

And this year’s TASS Athletes’ Advisory Group (TAAG) is taking shape ahead of what promises to be another challenging 12 months for England’s rising stars.

Last year we caught up with new TAAG chair Becky Wilde and revealed plans were in place to build a new team around the Bath-based rower.

Three months down the line and the new line-up is complete with athletes from a wide range of sports ready to make their voices heard.

Volleyball star and TASS alumnus Issa Batrane is readying himself for a third spell in the TAAG hotseat and the beach specialist believes the group’s role is more important than ever.

“In the past I hadn’t necessarily considered the athlete voice but over the years I’ve become aware of how important it is that sport’s decision makers understand what it’s like on the ground, right now”

“Even if they have experienced elite sport it’s likely that was a number of years ago. They need to be aware of the challenges that dual career athletes face now and how those athletes feel things could be done better.”

Issa was reappointed to the TAAG after TASS invited applications from alumni for the first time last year. The response from former TASS athletes was overwhelmingly positive with many offering their time and experience to help current students following the dual career pathway.

“We’re here to affect positive change but also to tell TASS what it does well,” added Issa.  “And TASS does so many things well. The TAAG is here to bring to light the positives as well as any negatives.”

The TAAG is a group of TASS athletes from a wide cross-section of sports and TASS Delivery Sites.

Its role is to provide an athlete voice to help TASS HQ to monitor and develop its support to athletes.

The TAAG is a key means of accessing direct athlete feedback for TASS and generating ideas to help shape and improve its delivery and resources for athletes.

Members receive training for their role and have the opportunity to share their experiences with fellow athletes.

There is also an opportunity to be part of other TASS projects and events as Dual Career representatives.

Alison Brown, National Lead for Athlete Support & Governance, said: “It’s a great and safe forum for athletes to have their say.

“The TAAG provides a fantastic opportunity for athletes to develop their own personal skills — such as influencing and communication — as well as giving them the chance to gain experience of advisory group work.”

Billy Shepherd is another active member of the TAAG in 2021 and the fencer is perfectly placed to shape the future of TASS and guide the support it can offer.

“Being a TASS athlete is hugely beneficial and I have personal experience of the difference it can make,” said the University of Nottingham student.

“From that standpoint I feel I can make a real difference as a member of the TAAG.

“It’s great to know that the group’s feedback is assessed and acted upon. Our suggestions are implemented quickly and we can see how positive the changes can be.”

The TAAG chair Becky Wilde was appointed prior to November’s lockdown but with fresh restrictions in place any immediate post-pandemic return to action seems some way off.

She added: “For the time being the focus has to be on ensuring TASS is in the best position possible to meet the changing needs of students at what is a very difficult time.

“It’s such an unusual time to be an athlete and there’s a lot of fear. We recognise that it’s a pretty scary time but we need to assuage those fears and stay on top of a fast-changing situation. The TAAG is here to make sure that TASS support is still the best support that a student athlete can possibly get.”

The TAAG (TASS Athlete Advisory Group) for 2020/21 is as follows: Becky Wilde, Rowing (Chair), Billy Shepherd (Fencing at University of Nottingham), Jason Rolph (Boccia at Loughborough University), Ally Housley (Netballer at University of Nottingham), China-marie Kill (Rugby Union at University of Bath), Michael Holden (Rugby League at Gloucester Uni), Hayden Grand (Alpine Skier at University of Birmingham) Molly Sacker (Sailing University of Exeter), Phoebe Hayden (Rowing at University of Bath), Charlotte McGuinness (Para Powerlifting at Leeds Beckett University). The two TAAG alumni members are Rachelle Rogers (Alpine Skiing) and Issa Batrane (Beach Volleyball).