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Commitment to excellence was the focus of the first workshop of the newly-launched Isle of Man Sport Aid Academy, which took place on Friday.

Attended by many of the Island’s most promising young athletes, their parents and coaches, the workshop was the start of a major initiative to help young sportspeople develop their skills.

The Isle of Man Sport Aid Academy is delivering a programme of education and training with the aim of enhancing the skills needed to shine on the world stage. Athletes aged between 13 and 17 from 11 different sports, as well as six students from Queen Elizabeth II High School, will be given the support and knowledge needed to work towards becoming high performance athletes in the future.

During the first year the Academy, which is being funded by sponsors SMP Partners and Newfield in partnership with Isle of Man Sport, is hosting four workshops aimed at young athletes from the tier below those currently supported by Isle of Man Sport Aid. The athletes’ parents and coaches also take active roles in the programme.

The first workshop, at Bemahague School, Onchan, was led by former professional footballer Paul Jones, who now runs Move to Perform. Paul, a qualified physiotherapist who has worked with football clubs including Norwich City and Glasgow Rangers, is experienced in providing training in improving performance and pursuing excellence for clients from both the sporting and business worlds.

He was joined by nine fellow facilitators to deliver the first workshop, including former world-class trials rider Steve Colley, Josh Green, the Under 15 and Under 19 English Badminton Champion and last year’s Isle of Man Sport Coach of the Year Lee Holland.

Isle of Man Sport Aid Sports Performance Co-ordinator Chris Quine said: ‘The Isle of Man Sport Aid Academy is off to a really strong start. The excitement which surrounded the launch was carried through to the first workshop, and it was brilliant to see so many young people so engaged and ready to learn.

‘This first workshop was delivered through a series of talks and interactive group sessions, all involving the athletes, parents and coaches, and with a focus on commitment to excellence. Our young athletes can all benefit from the messages delivered during these workshops, and the

experience and knowledge of our facilitators, but to deliver the best results parents and coaches must also be fully engaged.’

He added: ‘The Academy is a unique opportunity to learn lessons which can be applied to the athletes’ sports, as well as their future careers and lives, and is only possible because of the generous support of sponsors SMP Partners and Newfield. It was extremely encouraging to see that everyone selected to join the Academy was so keen to make the most of this opportunity at the first workshop.’

The first workshop explained the need to commit in order to succeed, and how important it is to have a strong reason to stay committed. It helped identify the factors which could challenge commitment to excellence, as well as offering an understanding of how commitment can be maintained and enhanced. The training continues between workshops with homework assignments.

Mark Denton, Managing Director of leading independent trust and corporate services provider SMP Partners, said: ‘Our decision to support the Academy followed on from our sponsorship of the Isle of Man Sporting Excellence Programme led by double Olympic gold medallist Dame Kelly Holmes. This seemed a natural progression of that programme, and one which continued the ethos of equipping our young people with the skills to achieve excellence.

‘We are proud to be supporting this opportunity for the next generation of elite athletes, and I’m very pleased to hear about the level of enthusiasm shown by the participants at the first workshop. The Academy will prepare our young athletes for competition at the highest level, but, importantly, it will also provide them with life skills which will benefit them in whatever future they choose. As a business which has pursuit of excellence at its very core, SMP understands the value of giving people the tools and opportunities to be the very best they can be.’

Newfield Director Mark Reynolds said: “Having sponsored a number of local individuals and teams during the past two years, some of whom were representing the Isle of Man at the Island Games, the opportunity to assist our younger talent to reach the elite level was something that really appealed to us. The fact that the programme is focussed on developing participants’ skills and characteristics not only to be applicable to their sports, but also to later life, is something that very much fits in with our ideals as a company.

“Having attended the first workshop, it was incredibly refreshing to see each of the athletes showing such a keen interest in the information and knowledge being shared by the facilitators, particularly for such a key subject as commitment. By helping our youth understand the importance of being committed to a task, whether that is in their sporting pursuits or prospective careers, it will play a key role in helping each of them achieve their ultimate goals and future successes.

It is certainly a value we strive to instil in all Newfield staff on a day-to-day basis, to help us as a company achieve our targets.”

The second Isle of Man Sport Aid Academy workshop, focused on resilience and coping with challenges, takes place on January 15, 2016.


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