I am sure the majority of people don’t understand how sport is funded in the UK, the complexity of sports structures in the UK is a large topic and for another post. This post is focussing on high performance sport and therefore the role of UK sport in funding and supporting high performance judo.
UK sport describes itself as “responsible for investing around £100 million of public funds each year – from both the National Lottery and the Exchequer – in high performance sport. This money is now supplemented by the income from a private sponsorship scheme ‘Team 2012’.” Its core responsibilities are performance, major events and building international relations with federations and organisations. According to the UK Sport website:
“UK Sport has developed Mission 2012 – a project designed to keep eyes firmly focused on every element of the performance system, help sports to identify the issues and challenges they face in hitting their respective performance ambitions and find ways of dealing with them quickly and effectively.”
So has UK sport kept its eyes firmly on every element of British Judo’s performance system? Well I am sure they receive reports from the performance director regularly. I wonder if they have spoken to the players, or the coaches at any of the clubs providing players? Have they spoken to researchers who work specifically in judo? I think this would be interesting to know. I know they publish their mission 2012 report, although I haven’t seen it, and that according to their website no sport is classed as red (they use a traffic light system).
In fairness to UK Sport heir website also states:
“Mission 2012 also represents a cultural move away from the traditional relationship between funding body and sport. It encourages sports to conduct their own assessments of how their system is performing and to bring additional expertise to bear in finding creative solutions to problems.”
I wonder what creative solutions British judo will find, the 2010 world championships (one Bronze & one 7th) was our worst since 1969 and we were told not to worry, Patrick Roux’s statement was that he was confident and he explained this was the “end of the foundation phase” some of the other quotes are:
” we have the right clues and we start to have players regularly in the top five, some of them deliver medals.”
“So everything is starting to come together and now we will start to narrow the expertise around the key players.”
“Progressively, we expect the core players will then stabilise their performance close to where we need to be.”
At this point many coaches int he UK raised their concerns about the excessively long “foundation phase” and our increasingly poor results, even at the British Judo technical conference were questions raised but we were asked to stay on board with the program, not to worry, everything will fall into place. Yet now, one year later, we see an even worse performance by team GB in the world championships. Just to be clear, Patrick Roux took over in 2009 as head coach, Margaret Hicks was slightly before this and appointed him. 2009 was our worst worlds since 1983, we then had a worse performance in 2010 (our worst since 1969) and a worse performance in 2011.
I am not suggesting this is directly related to Patrick, in fact I think that would be unfair but is is relating to the system created but the current regime.
Mission 2012, requires sports to think about their performance plans in three dimensions based around:
- Athletes – their performance, development, health and well-being
- System – the places, structures, processes, people and expertise that deliver the programme
- Climate – the feel, functionality and culture experienced by athletes and staff
So lets do this.
- Athletes – I spoke about this in a previous post, I do not think you can blame the current podium squad for their performance. Our development process (in terms of cadet) is much better than it used to be and in my opinion, although there is obviously room for improvement, Matt Divall and Nigel Donoghue are doing a fantastic job and the cadet squads system is constantly improving. I think there is a lot of distrust and confusion at both junior and senior level though, the systems is in chaos in many places (sorry butt hat is my opinion). Health and well-being I will talk about below.
- Systems – I discuss this in detail in a previous post so will not discuss it again here.
- Climate – well…. what can I say…. I think I have never known such a down trodden and depressed British team. I am going to post later about coaching philosophy but there are some other thought here:
Transparency – this is important, I think many of the players do not del the process is transparent and they are disgruntled about that. I spoke to a player who told me there were medal targets for the worlds and there were players fighting who hadn’t met them yet other players were told they weren’t selected because they hadn’t met the medal target. I could look this up and check maybe but then maybe UK sport or the BJA board should? Many players do complain about the section process and perceive a political element to selections (priority given to BPJI, Ratho, Camberley, then others in that order rather than performance alone), I cannot confirm or verify this but it should be investigated, particularly in the case of Bath players.
Injury – A lot of the british team are injured constantly. I do not have specific figures on this but I do know Gemma Howell, Karina Bryant, Andy Burns, Sam Lowe, Kelly Edwards, Craig Fallon have all had long term injuries recently and the Sarah Clarke went into hospital for a shoulder operation after the worlds. I have seen a report from UK sport suggesting injury rate is highest and most severe at the BPJI but it is a very small sample size and Camberley didn’t submit data. I think this does need to be investigated more. On interesting thing in the report though is training time, the Bath players do more randori, more S & C than anywhere else and have less injuries.
Athlete experience – Many are injured, many feel their funding is poor and many feel they do not have the support services they need but above all the constant saying I hear these days is “the 9-5 coaches” they feel the coaching staff are there to do a job only (9-5) and could really care less about them as an individual. I can actually believe this, I saw one of the players completing some sort of assignment/essay after fighting at a world cup last year, I asked one of the (supposedly) 9-5 coaches what this player was studying (bearing in mind this player trains with this coach daily at the BPJI and is not at one of the other centres) and the coach told me she didn’t know. Now I am not being funny, I work with development players and I can tell you pretty much everything about them, parent name, school/university timetable, subjects, menstrual cycle, boyfriend/girlfriends name etc. It is not just about their judo, it is about them as people.
Interestingly, as I write this there is an interview with the performance director of UK Athletics, they were set a target of a minimum of 5 and a maximum of 8 medals, they achieved 7 medals despite some pretty intense media coverage. The interview went like this-
Reporter: Exceeded expectations?
Charles van Commenee : I never do expectations, we had a target and targets are set in order to get the right platform for the London games and every time we hit it we’re coming closer to success in London.
As I stated in my first post on this topic we were set a target of 1 medal minimum and 3 medals maximum, we didn’t meet that target.
Sorry, this has become another long one! Next post will consider coaching philosophy and my ideas of what we should do now. Please comment 🙂