Edition number 69; dateline 1 February 2013
Two chairs for Sister Jennie
Sport England are celebrating retaining their independence from UK Sport following Hugh Robertson finally getting round to making a decision on the “merge or not to merge” contretemps, although the language being used is illuminating. Jennie Price’s press office has trumpeted “No merger of Sport England and UK Sport”, while just along Southampton Row UK Sport suggested on their Twitter feed that there would be “no full merger”. When two organisations report the same event in such markedly different ways it might be best to go to the source, which in this case is Robertson’s department. The DCMS leads with what one might think the more newsworthy slant, which is that two new chairs are being recruited, one for each body. On the subject of merger the release makes the point that the minister “wants to drive further synergies between both bodies with UK Sport and Sport England co-located by 2014, sharing some back office services”. Same building, same administration, synergistic working, two completely separate bodies? Somebody’s bottom may well be aflame.
Compass navigate to Commons terrace
The Compass Association, which describes itself as “an initiative to set a new national benchmark for the provision of sport and physical activity in schools and the wider community”, is set for an launch on the terrace of the Houses of Parliament. February 6 will see Duncan Goodhew and Menzies Campbell taking tea with chair Gareth Lippiatt and representatives of the many “public, private, commercial and charity/voluntary sector providers” which make up the trade body’s membership. According to Lippiatt, the launch “represents the dawn of a new era for all those involved in PE and school sport”, an area in which he says “for far too long, poor quality provision has been allowed to exist”. For all their sakes you have to hope Baroness Campbell is otherwise engaged.
Marketing wisdom, with the bullshit taken out
Our friends at the Sports Marketing Network continue to challenge received sports development wisdom and have announced two opportunities to access the wit and wisdom of their head man, Svend Elkjaer. The former Danish handball international will be “telling stories and waving my arms around” (his description) at West Bromwich Albion’s ground, The Hawthorns, on 16 April and examining how “community sports providers are meeting the challenges and benefiting from new opportunities created by changes in people’s lives and the economic situation” in his intriguingly named Sustainable Community Sport II workshop. A month later, on 16 May, he will front a one-day conference looking at how to increase disabled people’s participation in sport and physical activity. This will be held at the English Institute of Sport, Sheffield and be called “Disability sport or sport for disabled people”. Elkjaer, who can be reached on 01423 326 660 or firstname.lastname@example.org, told The Leisure Review, “Both events will provide food for thought, some challenging ideas and be designed to send people away with a ‘to do’ list.”
Trusts body to buy in pensions advice
Sporta members have acted ahead of the automatic enrolment into workplace pensions being phased in between now and 2018 and have used their collective buying power to access the services of pensions advisors Punter Southall. The Pensions Act 2008 means that all employers are required to automatically enroll eligible employees into a qualifying pension scheme and make contributions to that scheme and more than a third of the members of the representative body for leisure and cultural trusts will pay into a fund and be able to get the best advice on the issue which their pooled money can buy. Lynn Murray of Active Stirling, who championed the setting-up of the scheme said, “Taking advice may have been cost-prohibitive for smaller trusts leaving them potentially exposed, but working collectively has enabled us to gain access to high-quality advice.”
StreetGames calls for coaching equality
The chief executive of doorstep sport providers and engine of social change, StreetGames, is calling for better representation in the ranks of the nation’s coaches for people from disadvantaged communities. Jane Ashworth, a former Sport England apparatchik, said: “It has been well documented that very few medal-winning members of the all-conquering Team GB squad in the London 2012 Games were raised and honed their sporting talent in the most disadvantaged communities of the UK. What is equally valid, yet less appreciated, is that neither were many of the coaches.” In an article which, by inference, criticises Sportscoach UK and the traditional deployers and developers of coaches, she explains her organisation’s response to the situation: “We wanted to go further and fully close the gap between doorstep sport and the national governing bodies of sport (NGBs). To do this, we have developed the StreetGames Training Academy. Our Level 2 course provides a firm foundation in coaching. It is recognised across the sports industry and has parity with the Level 2 courses run by NGBs. The emphasis is on ‘how to coach’ through multi-skill development.”
Icon pilot scheme for industry tyros
Icon Training, which delivers training programmes for the leisure and fitness sector at more than 200 assessment sites nationwide, is to take part in a government-led pilot learning programme for teenagers wanting to work in the fitness industry and is the only sport training provider in the UK to be given the go-ahead by the Education Funding Agency to provide its Ofsted Grade 1 training to 16- and 17-year-olds. The free training course will be available first to students living in Portsmouth, Sandwell, Dudley, Dover, Margate, Guildford, Bexley and Manchester and will take 36 weeks. Mac Cleves, managing director at Icon, said, “We are delighted to be able to provide these high-quality courses for foundation learners. The personalised programmes will encourage young people, who may have previously disengaged with learning, to follow their aspirations and reach their full potential. They will not only attain useful and relevant qualifications, but will also gain essential industry work experience and qualifications.”
News in brief
Staccato reports from the cultural typeface
Thursday 7 February
Every one of London’s 270 tube stations is to have a unique labyrinth plaque designed by Mark Wallinger as part of the Underground’s 150th anniversary, reminiscent of the tube’s original colour-coded stations to enable those who couldn’t read to get off at their station. Shakespeare’s Globe is to take Shakespeare’s Wars of the Roses plays on a tour of appropriate battlefields. Vladimir Putin has publicly humiliated and sacked Akhmed Bilalov, the head of preparations for the Sochi Winter Olympics. The music industry may be ailing but Warner has paid £487 million for Parlophone. In Australia it seems that much of their professional sport has been engulfed in a huge doping scandal. Back on the UK satellite of Planet Football, the English Premier League introduces new rules that mean clubs can only spend massively beyond their means instead of obscenely beyond their means; this will apparently solve everything until the last supporter of a Premier League club dies about 30 years from now. Cecil Womack dies aged 65.
Friday 8 February
The abuse of performers, already sickeningly familiar in sporting contexts, moves on to music with the conviction of a music teacher and his wife who worked and preyed at Chetham’s school of music in Manchester. In Cornwall plans to dredge sand from off shore on an industrial scale causes concern among surfers who fear the wave patterns will be altered. At the Louvre a woman is arrested for defacing Liberty Leading the People by Delacroix, while in Spain there is concern about the impact of a proposed gambling complex – EuroVegas if you will – outside Madrid. In Qatar (cough) Mark Cavendish wins his fourth stage in a row and wins the race, only his second stage race victory.
Saturday/Sunday 9/10 February
Barclays says it is going to close its tax avoidance department, having spent years strenuously denying it had one. The UK circus season gets going and this is the first year that there will be no big cats in the big tops. Tony Minichiello has rejected the job offer from British Athletics and Hollywood stars arrive for the BAFTAs, grinning through the sleet for the assembled press. Elton John’s dedication of a song to Ai Weiwei during a Beijing performance means he is unlikely to get another visa. Nigeria win the African Cup of Nations, while in Israel Beitar Jerusalem football club has its premises burned to the ground, an attack thought to be a response to the club signing two Muslim players. Five crew members of the Thompson Majesty cruise liner are killed during a lifeboat drill and Paul McMullen, manager of the Fisherman’s Friends singing group, is killed in an accident at the G Live theatre in Guildford.
Monday 11 February
The Pope resigns, calling into question God’s employment procedures. At the Grammys, British performers Mumford and Sons, Adele and Paul McCartney are among the gong-winners. Shadow culture secretary Harriet Harman reckons that she has successfully intervened to persuade Newcastle city council not to cut its arts budget in its entirety, while Tate Britain unveils a new hanging of its landscape paintings. Diving Olympian Pete Waterfield explains why he was a bit gutted to be told his funding was being cut and that he’s a bit upset that no one from British Swimming has actually spoken to him about it.