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Elite athletes are put through their paces by expert coaches from the English Institute of Sport in the newly-installed performance gym at Bisham WE WANT TO BE PROVIDING EXEMPLAR FACILITIES, WHICH PEOPLE WILL


COME AND LOOK AT FROM ALL OVER THE WORLD; PROVIDING AN EXCELLENT EXAMPLE OF HOW SPORT SHOULD BE DELIVERED WITH AN NGB


high aspirations. “As the last contract came to an end, we had the opportunity to refresh where we were with the NSCs and make sure they were realising their po- tential,” says Kevin Mills, who’s in charge of strategic lead projects and facilities at Sport England. “We felt some of the provision


wasn’t at the level we thought it could be. So, when drawing together the new contract and looking for a partner, we wanted to raise the bar in what we could deliver. Our aim was to provide exemplar facilities, which people will come and look at from all over the world; providing an excellent example of how sport should be delivered with an NGB.” A strategic review, completed in August 2009, cited four main aims for the centres: research; talent development; working with NGBs; and cost effective delivery. Although cost effectiveness was cited as an aim, the board made it clear that sport comes first. However, this means that now more commercial activity, such as confer- ences and weddings, will have a higher profile within the centres.


Issue 4 2011 © cybertrek 2011 Bisham is also base for the WIN Tennis Academy


“The response from the market in terms of the amount of interest and ideas which were put forward was really com- petitive and interesting,” says Mills. “But what I felt Serco did was grasp what we were trying to achieve – that the centres were very special and needed something inspirational in terms of delivery. “We were particularly impressed with


the level of thought Serco put into how to meet the strategic objectives. The opera- tor put effort and resource into engaging with stakeholders, such as the NGBs and UK Sport, to understand the customers and


to deliver what was needed. Serco have also linked with local author- ities to see how it can encourage community use,” says Mills. According to Phelps, these are complex sites to run, with the right balance needing to be struck between all the different user groups. “The challenge is to satisfy the elite athletes and the national squads, as well as developing the legacy to increase mass par- ticipation,” he says. “Due to the national status, the centres attract groups from all over the country for sports camps. Another challenge is to balance sport and commercial opportunities that could help offset the running costs.”


Positive approach


Serco took over the 15-year contracts for the two centres in April this year, and al- ready Sport England has been impressed with the proactive approach.


More resources have been pumped into sports development and NGB engage- ment, sports development officers have been appointed and Serco has started working on development programmes


Read Sports Management online sportsmanagement.co.uk/digital 57


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