Development Programme Update
On 16th December Sport England, (SE) announced their continued investment into the Talent programme for the period 1st April 2017 – 31st March, 2021. The programme received an increase in funding from £1.29 million for the last cycle, to £1.415 million. Given the current climate of funding measures across sport and public services, GB Taekwondo are delighted with the investment commitment from SE. This represented a significant achievement as well as signaling SE’s continued support for the programme.
Despite the boost to funding realistically there is a financial cost to having a National Centre with overheads, and in addition the overall budget fell short of the ambitions that GB Taekwondo had envisaged for the Talent Programme within this cycle. This will mean that the programme will need to realign aspects of the existing programme in order to ensure it achieves its’ key objective and remains within budget;
“To scout, and develop talented athletes and provide an oversupply of athletes, across the Olympic weight categories, who can thrive in the Academy programme to become a future Olympic medallist”.
Whilst the current clubs and Talent Clubs contribute to the talent pool, it is relatively finite, both in terms of the quantity and the quality of athletes who have the characteristics to thrive in an Academy programme, and with the ability to become a future Olympic medallist. In order to maintain investment and future funding, GB Taekwondo must remain completely focused on their 2020, and 2024 Olympic objectives to maintain, and enhance their Olympic medal count.
This has challenged the programme to make some incredibly difficult choices to prioritise SE funds to ensure that it delivers the above key objective.
Unquestionably, by comparison to pre 2013, over the last cycle together with the clubs the Talent Programme has improved cadet and junior development. In addition, relative to the size of the talent pool and the investments made by Sport England, GB Taekwondo programmes have provided a good return upon the investment made. However, the single greatest challenge has been and still remains, the identification and development of athletes, (particularly heavyweight athletes), as well as the volume of athletes who annually graduate into the Academy programme.
In order to achieve the oversupply of athletes for the Academy programme within the coming cycle, GB Taekwondo has prioritised two core investment strands:
1. TALENT IDENTIFICATION:
- Talent Identification – A Talent Scout will proactively seek to identify talented athletes across
the weight categories, especially the heavier weights in males and females, and to recruit them
either from a WTF background or any martial art.
- Athletes will be directed to an annual ‘DRAFT’ selection procedure which will assess ability
through Test Matches and coaching scenarios. A shortlist of athletes will be made and up to
40 males and 40 females invited for a further selection weekend.
- From the shortlist of 80 athletes up to 32 athletes aged 13-18 yrs of age, (4 female and 4 males
in each of the four Olympic weight categories), will be selected to the Development
* GB Taekwondo will consult with Manchester City worldwide talent scout team to provide current insight into this into this area of operations.
2. ATHLETE DEVELOPMENT & EXPERIENCES:
- Using up to two training weekends per month, a small Development Squad aged 13 – 18 years
will be nurtured for up to 4 years until they are superseded by more talented athletes, or they
are promoted into the Academy (the full-time Senior World Class Programme).
- Exit strategies will include Talent Clubs, (where an athlete is in a good proximity), as well as
the athletes’ club. GB Taekwondo will encourage athletes and coaches to maintain contact with
the Programme to provide an update on progress, as well as tracking athletes with the
assistance of our performance analysts to monitor results.
In order to ensure the primary objectives of an oversupply of athlete to the Academy Programme is
achieved there are two key components which GB Taekwondo will no longer invest into beyond 31st
- Cadet development, to include team preparation and attendance at major Championships
- Coach Development Officer
The third area that will not be invested into relates to U21 major Championships, an area that the
Talent Programme was not able to effectively support within the last cycle.
Dialogue has taken place between GB Taekwondo and British Taekwondo and British Taekwondo are
reviewing if and how they might support Cadet development/attendance at Major Championships.
This means that this year GB Taekwondo will not publish a selection procedure for the Cadet World
Championships/European Championships, neither the U21 European Championships.
During March a team of new and existing coaches will be recruited to deliver the Development
Programme headed by the newly appointed Development Programme Coach, Romaine Bailey.
As of 1st April 2017, GB Taekwondo and the Development team will begin to plan how they will continue to develop and nurture athletes aged 13 years – 18 years.
By working with the above age combinations, it will allow us to continue to work with final year cadets and to develop them alongside juniors, as well as first year senior athletes. Secondly by merging age groups this will allow us to more effectively utilise our coaching resource to increase the frequency of contact time with the athletes and to enhance the experience of athletes aged 13 – 18 years of age.
Athletes who demonstrate characteristics which are aligned to future Olympic potential, and who are committed to senior success, will be directed to a recruitment procedure which will be referred to as the ‘Draft’. Modelled on the Draft recruitment procedure established in American National League Football, [NFL], on an annual basis the Programme will use a combination of test events and training scenarios to identify and recruit athletes for the Development Programme.
The most challenging aspect of any selection is;
“….connecting physicality to the mentality of a player to determine their integrity,
competitiveness, resilience, and ability to perform in a high-pressure performance environment”.
– Steve Gera, Special Assistant to the Head Coach, Celevaland Browns, NFL Draft.
GB Taekwondo will use the Draft to replicate a competitive environment and similar to previous Fighting Chance campaigns, the Draft will be inclusive to athletes within the sport of Taekwondo, as well as other martial arts. The central component of athlete recruitment will rely on coach instinct.
Together with talent scouting, the talent programme represents a step change in this cycle and is solely related to the need to maintain, and grow Olympic future potential. The revised Sport England programme will now be referred to as the Development Programme which is tasked to prioritise talent search, as well as enhance the development training programme for 13-18 year old athletes.
In terms of the two areas of Cadet and U21 development, British Taekwondo are currently reviewing the situation and plan to make future announcements in due course.