Talented athletes across Coventry schools are latest to benefit from university expertise

Pupils and staff at Finham Park School, Coventry

Aspiring young athletes across Coventry can now access professional training and support thanks to a national scheme designed to keep students competing while they study – all in the year that the city takes on its title of European City of Sport 2019.

Coventry University has teamed up with four schools and colleges to help 40 athletes with potential to go further with a range of advice and support services to help them stay at the top of their game while progressing in their education.

The Potential Project, run in partnership with Sport England-funded Talented Athlete Scholarship Scheme (TASS), works with a select group of schools and colleges across the country – four of which are now in Coventry.

Athletes aged between 16 and 18 and studying for their A-levels at President Kennedy, Finham Park, Cardinal Newman, and Coventry City College are now signed up to receive high quality support in everything from sport science; strength and conditioning; nutrition; physiotherapy and anti-doping education.

Sessions will be delivered by the Coventry University Sport and Recreation team and faculty of Health and Life Sciences university after they were awarded TASS Dual Career Accreditation last year.

The project will help mark a celebration of all aspects of sport across Coventry after it was named the City of Sport 2019 by the European Capitals and Cities of Sport Federation (ACES Europe) following a successful bid by the city council and supported by Coventry University and other partners.

Gemma Lavery, Head of Sport and Physical Activity at Coventry University, said: “When applying for the TASS Dual Career Accreditation and the TASS Potential Project we knew that there was so much talent within our city, and this programme is an excellent way of giving forty students with that potential the right level of professional support that they otherwise might not have access to.

“This is about celebrating sport across Coventry and enhancing the opportunity to support our young athletes with potential, in and out of school, and the fact that Coventry is now the European City of Sport is fantastic, there is no better time to be celebrating what our young people can do.”

The TASS Potential Project is all about offering opportunities to young talented athletes aged between 16 and 18 who are playing sport at county standard and above, to encourage them to continue training alongside their education.

As the official City of Sport this year, organisations across Coventry will work together to focus on encouraging more young people to enjoy sport and lead an active lifestyle, nurturing talent from all areas of the city.

At President Kennedy School, 10 sixth form students with a background in a variety of sports are already taking part in their first TASS Potential programme.

Steven Garlick, head of PE said: “All of our participants are studying for their A-levels and combining this with their own sporting commitments. Some of them will be looking at a future in sport at university and beyond, and this will give them a valuable insight into the life of a talented athlete and hopefully inspire them in their sporting lives.”

At Finham Park School, those taking part range from academy rugby players, international track and field athletes, regional swimmers, badminton players and horse riders.

Matthew Amos, Finham Park’s head of PE said: “So far the group has received fantastic presentations from strength and conditioning coaches, top level athletes and physiotherapy. They’ve already started to get the information needed to support them with their future dual academic and sporting careers and are very excited to get started in practical sessions.

“We hope this will be the start of an annual gifted and talented sporting programme for Finham and across the city.”

Kirsty Field, TASS national lead for institutions, said: “We are really excited to have Coventry University on board as a provider of the TASS Potential Project. Our hope is that it will help build relationships within the community, as well as provide students with an insight into the life of a dual career athlete.”

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