SkillsActive, the sector skills council for sport, active leisure and learning, is inviting industry employees to apply for its annually awarded SkillsActive and Nancy Ovens Bursary.
The Bursary provides paid and un-paid individuals working within the sports and active leisure sector with up to £2,000 to improve their skills through an innovative training programme - one which is often considered outside the scope of regular training.
Suki Kalirai, interim CEO of SkillsActive, says: “SkillsActive is committed to improving the skills of individuals working in our sector and we understand that some of the best learning opportunities take place outside the classroom – and sometimes, outside of the UK.
“The Nancy Ovens bursary is a fantastic opportunity for people to access financial support for unconventional training that will help them in their current or future roles in the sector. I’m excited to see what this year’s applicants have planned.”
Applicants are expected to create their own training experience, allowing them to develop new and improved skills, which they can then implement and use within their current or future roles in the sector.
Sport Scotland shotgun coach Iain MacGregor, 58, used his £600 bursary in 2011 to work on his trap shooting technique with his idol, former GB coach Marcello Dradi, in Italy.
Iain, whose clients include elite athletes vying for spots at the Commonwealth Games, says: “Marcello gave me the confidence to work more closely with my students on smaller details that could affect the outcome of their trap shooting, such as moving somebody’s feet a micron, or bringing their gun back in their shoulder.
“My learners are now benefitting from my time with Marcello and, if I keep improving my skills and helping elite athletes, hopefully I’ll be using his advice to train athletes as GB coach at the next Olympic Games!”
For keen rower and PHD student Natalie Campbell, a £600 grant from Nancy Ovens helped forge a working relationship with the US rowing team.
Natalie used her fund to pay for a two week trip to America last May to help with an online talent drive to find new members for US Rowing team’s adaptive rowing corps.
“After the two weeks were over I was invited to stay for a six-week training course to bring suitable candidates up to speed; an incredible honour. Three of the athletes chosen made it to the World Championships – Tony Davies, a former Navy Seal, Jaqui Kapinowski, who was already a long-distance wheelchair racer, and Trisha Downing, a competitive cyclist who was paralysed in an accident and wanted to carry on competing.
“My work finding them and then with their training led to me being invited to travel with US Rowing to the World Championships. I’m now going back to America in March to help the Paralympic team train and will hopefully be working with Team US when they come to England in the summer for the 2012 Games.
“I can’t believe what an incredible opportunity this has turned out to be for me, and it’s all thanks to the Nancy Ovens Bursary. I don’t think I could have gone without it, as a PHD student I don’t have access to that kind of money!”
The Bursary is named after the late Nancy Ovens who was a former board member of SkillsActive’s predecessor organisation SPRITO and championed the development of work-based skills in the sector.
Applications for this year’s Bursary close on 11 May 2012.
For more information and to apply online see www.skillsactive.com/nancyovens