The Jersey Sport Foundation was set up in 2014 by Dominion Founder, Ben Cooke, with the intention to provide support services to help local people achieve their aspirations in sport. Since 2014, under the lead of the Head of Services, John Scriven, the team have significantly strengthened the talent pathway in Jersey, providing essential modern scientific approaches to enhancing athlete development, to keep Jersey ahead of the game. An organisation unknown to many islanders, we met with the team to find out more.
So tell us, what do the Jersey Sport Foundation actually do?
On a daily basis, JSF practitioners provide free services to local coaches, associations and their athletes aimed at the optimisation of training programmes, maximising competition outcomes and enhancing holistic health.
We also provide a range of added-value benefits to the sports we work with at an organisational level, by providing expertise around the implementation of effective long term participant pathway delivery.
The organisation operates in four main areas; Performance Services, Talent Development Services, Research Innovation and Consultation & Education. We like to be known as ‘The team behind the team’.
How do you support our island’s top athletes?
Our Performance Programme supports over 60 nationally and internationally ranked athletes and their coaches, by providing high quality strength and conditioning, athlete monitoring, sports medicine, nutrition, lifestyle and psychology services. Athletes on this programme are already performing or close to performing at the national or international levels, many of which you will see representing Jersey at the Island and Commonwealth Games.
What do you do to ensure that Jersey is ahead of the game when it comes to sporting talent?
Jersey is a small population, so in order to be seriously competitive on the national and world stage, we have to be savvy about how we intelligently detect, identify, map, develop and transfer talent. We do this in two ways:
Our ‘Talent Development’ Programme is available to 12-16 year olds who aspire to be the ‘stars of the future’. Children are able to get a taste of the services that senior performance athletes receive, whilst providing them with vital information such as health, welling, mentorship and sport selection mapping guidance. This is all about finding the ‘rough diamonds’ and giving them structure and direction, whilst providing young athletes who have already found their sport with the extra support needed to help their journey and their coach.
The ‘Talent Transfer’ Programme has developed a number of innovative campaigns aimed at enhancing the performance output of sport in Jersey. Athletes with desirable and transferable skills from other sports are mapped into new sports, where they may be suited and have a quicker, more realistic performance trajectory. Readers may be familiar with our Power2Podium Olympic Weightlifting Programme and Fight4Gold Judo Programmes. In the first 9 months of operation, these programmes have already seen medals at county, regional and national level.
What do you do when it comes to nurturing the next generation of local talent?
The JSF works alongside other local sports organisations with the ambition of strengthening the foundations of performance – ‘the grassroots’ level of sport and physical activity. Our particular interest is the development of programmes that relate to child activity and physical literacy, as performance and health start from the same place. Recently, a large piece of published collaborative research reviewing the holistic physical activity levels of Jersey’s children has been developed, which provides a benchmark and recommendations for the Island against a wide number of international jurisdictions. The organisation has also been a major partner alongside Jersey Sport in the development of physical literacy monitoring, which Jersey is now globally recognised for.
How important is education in the development of our island’s sporting industry?
We recognise that coach and association education is essential to enhancing the development of sport. The JSF offer a range of coaching qualifications and workshops related to athlete development, which are usually free, and enable access to voluntary coaches and organisations. The organisation has now hosted three annual conferences, hosting world class speakers and experts on island.
We are firm believers in developing local talent, as such we also a free internship which includes formal qualifications and high level hands-on experience under the mentorship of professional coaches for anyone aspiring to get into performance coaching or support services
What does the future look like?
Our goal is to advance our services further to enhance the development of top-level athlete and coach centred performance services, as well as the continued development and strengthening of the local talent pathway services. We foresee the continued use of intelligently led performance talent detection, identification and transfer campaigns, which provide a sustainable and clear pathway for athletes. Success in these will allow Jersey to continue to punch above its weight on the international sporting environment.
Clearly the employment of high quality local staff and effective long term staff development will grow, as will the importance of strong collaboration with our key partners like Jersey Sport, the Commonwealth Games Association of Jersey, the multiple local sports associations and their athletes.