Developing our Young Leaders – What Support and Opportunities are out there?
Traditionally gymsports is a very young sport and there is a high drop-out rate particularly as girls hit their teenage years. In addition to developing new pathways for athletes to stay within the sport including programmes like Team Gym or new codes such as Aerobics, Clubs should be considering how to retain, engage and develop these athletes as leaders within the Club. This article looks at some of the ways that Clubs can support this growth and development.
Jessica Rice is a coach at Rimutaka GymSports (Wellington) and an Artistic athlete at Hutt Valley GymSports. Jess is an XTND Graduate and became an Elementry Artisitic Judge in 2016. Except for being very busy, what else has she been up to? Jess has been the first ever Foward Foundation Ambassador representing gymsports.
The Forward Foundation Ambassador Programme aims to increase participation in girls’ sports through identifying young female game changers and enabling them to inspire those around them to participate in sport. They’re not looking for the best player in the team, they’re looking for girls willing and passionate about lifting the profile and participation levels of girls’ sport in New Zealand. Forward Foundation Ambassadors can be any secondary school girl involved in sport in any way. Preference is given to those involved in sports with lower participation levels.
During her first year, Jess completed two projects; one was to create an ‘I love Gym Because … ‘ video. She was also challenged to carry an item from her sport around for two weeks – she choose a swiss ball, and flew to Christchurch for a conference with the other sports ambassadors. Jess loves being part of this great group of girls.
If you or anyone you know, may be interested in becoming a Forward Foundation Ambassador, applications are now open.
What else is out there?
- XTND Youth Leadership Programme
- Volunteer roles at events – create event roles for your teenage members and encourage them to get involved.
- Volunteer positions in your club – does your Club have specific roles for young leaders? Could you have an athlete representative on your committee or a young leaders sub-committee. Empowering your youngsters to get involved in the running of the Club not only gives you a valuable insight into how your members think and what they want/are interested in, it also starts training up the next generation of Club Managers, Committee Chairs etc.
- Duke of Edinburgh – accessed through schools.
- Sport Northland Coach Improvement Workshop Series
- Sport NZ programmes: Become a Coach (advice on getting involved) and Growing Coaches (for secondary school students wanting to become coaches).
- Becoming a performance judge – with the right support and mentoring in place, athletes can make great judges. It also gives them great insight into the sport from the other side.
Take some time to talk to your older athletes and find out what their interests and aspirations are. They have a huge amount to offer and are literally the future of our sport – it’s really worth it!