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Georgia Barnes, one of the leading juniors during a National Junior Training Camp in Manchester

Growing the grassroots Before the Talent Pathway’s introduc- tion, the route into the GB academy was through recognition at the National Championships or International competi- tions. No formal scouting system existed. “There has never really been a sig-

nificant grassroots programme in place before,” Leak says. “In the past, the route into the World

Class Programme came directly from the local club. Now GB Taekwondo, through the Sport England ‘Excel’ programme, has installed a pathway athletes can visi- bly understand and realise. We now have a great national team and are building development programmes from the top down rather than bottom upwards. “We have the shop window and every-

thing in place to use them as a stimulus for increased interest in the sport. If we get gold medals next year then the task is to signpost people, who are new to the sport, into clubs. “The task for the BTCB and GB Tae-

kwondo is to capitalise on any success at London 2012 and have the structures in place to do so,” Leak says. Adrian Tranter, chair of the British Tae-

kwondo Control Board, says: “The club system is already well structured with systems for both the sports side and the martial art practised throughout. “The clubs’ work is to give an oppor-

tunity to learn all the basic skills and to progress at a pace that suits the individual. It doesn’t matter if it’s an aspiring Olym- pian or someone who just wants to enjoy the physical and mental challenges, the

The task for the BTCB and GB Taekwondo is to

capitalise on any success at London 2012 and have the structures in place to do so

health and flexibility improvements or just to feel part of a club that offers respect and confidence building for everyone. “Many schools are switching onto the

huge benefits to their pupils by bringing WTF Taekwondo into their curriculum or as part of their after school clubs. Parents see the immediate positive outcomes that their children exhibit as the found- ing principles of WTF Taekwondo are at the core of everything taekwondo does: etiquette, modesty, perseverance, self- control and indomitable spirit. “Every elite athlete comes through

the club system and the development plans for the clubs via coach education and training are at the forefront of the funding that is soon to be brought into the BTCB through Sport England’s “Grow and Sustain” pathways. Initiatives include posts for development managers, coach education through a recognised training provider plus user-friendly website tools being brought in for the first time. “With the success it has achieved in

recent years, the BTCB is convinced that this funding will result in a greater level

38 Read Sports Management online

of growth of its clubs and keep more members training for longer. “This will ultimately help deliver the

elite athletes of the future to the GB Tae- kwondo Academy,” Tranter says.

Moving upwards GB Taekwondo is charged with delivering the third tier of Sport England’s ‘Grow and Sustain’ pathway known as ‘Excel.’ “It’s in our interest to take from the

wider pool and put programmes in place to identify talent and bring them along,” says Leak. Existing WTF club members are

encouraged to enter national and inter- national competitions to gain experience and recognition from the GB coaches. Athletes who show signs of world-

class potential can come to Manchester to showcase their skills at trials for the national cadet/junior talent squad. Here, they’ll be fully assessed and monitored on a continual basis to realise their perfor- mance and athletic potential. However, the NTS is not a taekwondo camp. It’s an education centre which encompasses all areas of service provision to emphasise personal and sport development. “At each tier of the pathway – from

schools, cadets, juniors, homestay through to the Olympic programme – we will en- sure players’ access to high-performance support staff, including nutritionists and psychologists, to define what’s needed at each stage of the pathway to contribute to an improved programme,” Leak says. l

Trevor Baxter is a freelance journalist Issue 4 2011 © cybertrek 2011

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