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Athlete support now recognised at a critical time

By Leek Post and Times  |  Posted: February 17, 2014


Lizzy Yarnold

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With Lizzy Yarnold, the GB Curling Team and Sochi 2014 at the forefront of the sporting world at present, access to qualified, professional guidance to balance athletes’ intense fitness schedules with ‘off the field’ commitments is finally being met with a new initiative that recognises the importance of this role.

Specifically focusing on career advice, financial commitments, family support, education and welfare, the Register of Personal Development Practitioners in Sport (RPDPS) will recognise qualified professionals in Staffordshire who work in the area of personal development within sport.

It will formally launch on February 27th in central London.

Qualified professionals also work with younger athletes embarking on the pathway to sporting success at the highest level, such as those on the Skills Active Advanced Level Apprenticeship in Sporting Excellence (AASE) sports performance programme.

Recent years have seen the likes of Tom Daley and Rebecca Addlington complete the programme, along with Elise Christie, a speed skater representing GB in Sochi.

As an independent public Register, RPDS recognises the qualifications and expertise of professionals who work in the area of personal development within sport. Acceptance onto the Register will be exclusively for those who hold the relevant qualifications and experience for the job they undertake, and who complete Continuing Professional Development (CPD) to keep their skills and knowledge up to date.

Steve Mitchell, Head of National Partnerships for Skills Active, the owners and operators of RPDPS, says, “RPDPS has been developed because of a demand from the industry to create National Occupational Standards that enable personal development practitioners to gain the trust and confidence of their clients, which in this case are top level athletes.

In addition, national governing bodies and clubs can be assured that the professionals working with their athletes and players are fully qualified and competent in what is a very sensitive job role.”

Leading organisations involved in the development of RPDPS include the Rugby Football Union, English Institute of Sport, England and Wales Cricket Board, Sports Wales, and the Professional Players Federation.

The new Register will also benefit organisations looking for professionally recognised practitioners. Such professionals work with some of the country’s elite athletes, from international team players to Olympic champions.

Personal development practitioners ensure that athletes in their respective sports have the correct mentoring and lifestyle advice.

Katherine Grainger CBE, GB Rowing and Olympic champion, will be present at the launch along with Leon Lloyd (England Rugby) and Holly Colvin (England Cricket) says, “Performance lifestyle has been instrumental and played a key role throughout my rowing career that has spanned four Olympics.”

Kate Green, National Lead- Personal Development & Welfare at the ECB, said: “Having a register for our profession is hugely important in recognising the development in this area of support. The aim is to support lifestyle, personal development and wellbeing of players and coaches in Staffordshire so that they can perform to the best of their ability; minimising unwanted obstacles and maximising future opportunities in both their personal and professional lives. Having specialised, experienced and trusted practitioners to perform this support is crucial and having a clear pathway will enable keen and motivated individuals to follow a clear career progression.”

Steve Mitchell concludes, “Many people are waking up to the fact that sport is becoming a more lucrative business. Although this is great for the development of each individual sport and the economy at large, it is also attracting people to the sector who offer advice and services that are below standard. RPDPS will provide the yardstick by which professionals are accepted by the wider industry.”

SkillsActive is the Sector Skills Council for Active Leisure, Learning and Well-being.

SkillsActive is made up of seven sub-sectors of the sports and active leisure industry, sports, fitness, outdoors, playwork, caravans and hair and beauty, and works to increase the demand, quality and availability of skills provision across the UK.

SkillsActive's nationwide body of staff are experts in their field.

They provide employers, training providers, policy makers and key organisations with information and advice on skills development and training for the sector.

Sector Skills Councils (SSCs) are independent, employer-led, UK–wide organisations.

The SSCs and the UK Commission are committed to working in partnership across the four nations to create the conditions for increased employer investment in skills which will drive enterprise, create jobs and lead to sustainable economic growth.

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