Sport England is the main organisation and operates as an umbrella under which the governing bodies of each sport operate. Sport England is accountable to Parliament through Chris Smith, the Secretary of State for the Department of Culture Media and Sport. As the main body of sport it guides sport in England by distributing money through the various governing bodies, as well as advise and direct the various governing bodies. Alongside this Sport England helps achieve equality in sport for women, the disabled and racial minorities.
One of the main objectives adopted by Sport England is ‘More People, More Places, More Medals’. This means i) to get more people involved in sport, ii) to increase the amount of facilities, iii) to increase the quality of performance in sport at a national level. These objectives can be used to help achieve the strategic aim of Sport England. ‘More people’ will allow a wider base from which elite sports persons can be cultivated, as well as allowing individual personal achievements, especially among women, the disabled and the ethnic minorities. ‘More places’ also allows for greater development of potential elite athletes, who are more able to participate in sports they enjoy from a younger age.
Specialist facilities and sessions will also allow for minority groups in sport to participate at a wider and higher level. ‘More medals’ is the objective which is most linked into the strategic aim of Sport England, relating to each part of it. By offering more opportunities for participation in competitive sport and competitions to all levels of performer will help them reach their full potential, and will keep them interested in continuing sports, especially those in which they are successful.
Through Sport England, the sports council has set up a ‘World Class Performance’, which takes athletes from 14 year old through to the height of their performance. It is set up in three stages in order to help give performers the best possible help during a particular stage of development. At the age of 14, elite performers in their age group for a particular sport will be drafted into the World Class Start scheme. If at 18 they appear to still have the potential then they will move into the World Class Potential part of the scheme. By 22 if they are not already performing on a national stage, but still appear to be good enough, then they will move into the third and final stage of the scheme, the World Class Performance, where they will remain while they are a performer.
To help cultivate potential stars of the future from the earliest age possible, National sports centres have been set up around the country. Performers who have been identified as possible elite performers can be helped into specialising in one sport from a very young age, and given the best coaching and guidance in their particular sport, whilst performing alongside others who also excel in their own particular sport. Some sports centres have been in existence for a while, such as Bishom Abbey which specialises in Football and Tennis, Lilleshall which specialises in football and Gymnastics, Crystal Palace which specialises in athletics and Holme-pierre-point, which specialises in water sports. Others are relatively new in achieving national sports centre status, especially the universities of Bath, Southampton and Sheffield Hallam. However, they all have the same aim in looking to help young sports persons achieve the height of their potential.
Linked to the national sports centres, the English Institute of Sport is a nationwide network of world class training facilities and support sources. As a result of repeated performances by English and British teams that were way below-par on the international stage, the conservative government attempted to set up a British Academy in order to support national sports. Overall, performance in elite competition by English and British athletes and teams has improved as a result of such actions within sport. One of the keys to successful sports performance is funding. Funding allows such schemes to be developed, enabling the nurturing of talent from very young age. It also allows for the setup of facilities, and especially the three point objective of Sport England.
However, things are still not perfect. It is noticeable that many foreigners hold important positions within the management of many of our sports teams, most notably Sven Goran-Eriksson in charge of the national football team. As such it could be advised that as well as focusing on our elite performance, those who run and manage our teams and individuals should also be improved, with more domestic talent gaining the top awards for coaching etc. There is also still room for improvement to learn from schemes and policies run in foreign countries such as Australia and France where sport is currently a success, and could adopt some of the ideas they have put into place.