I’ve just returned from an excellent and very busy British Canoeing & Leadership Conference in Nottingham, where I was fortunate to be a delegate on the Saturday and delivering on the Sunday and Monday. I’ve been to a few conferences now and this one certainly felt different to the others I’ve been involved in, it had a very professional and competent feel right from the moment you entered the venue. In previous years the conference has been an opportunity for people to have a moan about everything that British Canoeing isn’t doing for them or their club – if you’re not careful you can end up losing hours of your life listening to people grip and groan about one thing or another. I appreciate not everyone has a sunny disposition but it was always a bit of a negative to previous conferences. This year however I can honestly say I only heard positive chatter around the new awards and the direction that British canoeing is going…it was so refreshing! If you haven’t had a chance it’s well worth reading the Stronger Together Strategic Plan. It was great to hear how progress is being made in the achievement of the ambitions set out within it. You can read it by clicking on the logo below:

It wasn’t all tea drinking and sitting about though…I was fortunate to be able to work with some fantastic providers over the weekend, which began with an FSRT Provider Moderation on the Sunday. Which saw a group of 18 providers standardise practice across this fantastic award. The day received some great feedback from the delegates and it was a brilliant opportunity to work with Alex Spibey (Head of Paddlesport at Lee Valley), sharing ideas on delivery.

Monday saw what might possibly be the most intense rescue session as part of the Paddlesport Leader Provider Orientation – 21 candidates showing personal and rescue skills in every genre of craft including: SUP, GP kayaks, canoe and race boats, in all we had 43 craft on the lake side…I think! Again, fantastic to work with Chris Brain (who insistently, received Impact Coach of the Year Award!) and Alex in putting the day together – but as Chris said, “you probably wouldn’t want to run one every week!” It certainly took a lot of concentration to ensure nothing was missed.

2018 Conference Highlights

  • Mark Delaney’s key note speech on his journey from Olympic athlete to world class Olympic Coach – some great practical advice for any coach.
  • Networking – catching up with old friends and making new ones, you don’t always talk about paddling either…only joking of course that’s all we talk about!
  • Sharing good practice – no one has all the answers but between us we’re getting closer and this weekend is a great opportunity to reflect on your personal coaching and leadership.
  • The coach award ceremony – to see your peers recognised for the outstanding work they do in the sport your passionate about is just the best…the food was good too!
  • Inspiring – David Joy (British Canoeing CEO) in his key note speech said he wanted to get to a position where people were proud to be members of British Canoeing…I for one, am there already!

If you haven’t been to the conference before I’d highly recommend it – the next conference will be November 2019 so keep a look out for the date announcement in Catch up with Coaching which will no doubt be coming soon.


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