UK Athletics (UKA) and the four Home Country Athletics Federations (HCAFs); Athletics Northern Ireland, England Athletics, Scottish Athletics and Welsh Athletics have unveiled the new UK-wide strategy for the sport of athletics: Athletics Unified – Powering Potential; Enhancing Experiences, Delivering Success 2020-2032
The strategy, developed between all five organisations, was formulated from existing research and understanding of the sport and has also benefited from a period of consultation during Summer 2020, including an online consultation process and a series of joint engagement webinars held by UK Athletics and HCAF partners.
At the centre of the new strategy are three key aspirations marking a clear departure from previous strategic focus areas and demonstrating commitment to supporting the core of the sport by putting the athlete and the athletics family at the heart of everything they do.
The key aspirations are:
Goal 1: In 2032, GB & NI will have a representative in every discipline at all senior international events. In 2032, 95% of the Paralympic team will reach their final.
Goal 2: A world-renowned infrastructure of athletics and running clubs, competitions and coaches that retains over 250,000 registered athletes across the UK by 2032.
Goal 3: Athletics, running and pushing* is the nations’ choice to stay active: 9 million regular participants by 2032.
The three aspirations are strategically linked: To improve performance of athletes (Goal 1) there will need to be a world class support system of clubs, coaches, officials and competition (Goal 2) and to make sure this system flourishes with a continuous supply of athletes, participation levels need to be sustained (Goal 3). If elite success is achieved, talented athletes are developed and major events are delivered, this will inspire more young people to participate, existing athletes to stay in the sport and attract more commercial income to re-invest back into the sport to further support the strategy and delivery of these aspirations.
To deliver these aspirations all five organisations have signed up to a UK wide framework agreement, to clearly set out how they will work together, following clear roles and responsibilities, in delivering the unified UK wide strategy.
The CEO forum; Joanna Coates (UKA), Kerry Woods (Athletics Northern Ireland), Chris Jones (England Athletics), Mark Munro (Scottish Athletics) and James Williams (Welsh Athletics), will work to clear terms of reference and, accountable to their respective Boards and reporting to UK Sport and the sports councils, will ensure that resources are utilised in the most efficient and effective way to drive success at all levels of the sport.
In addition, a cross-organisational series of working groups will jointly oversee the strategic and priority areas across the sport. These working groups will comprise of a Chair, the subject matter leads from UKA and each HCAF, plus additional volunteer and expert advisors. Areas they will coordinate on will include Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (ED & I), leadership, performance and talent, coaching, officials, competition, clubs, club leaders and facilities, running, young people, commercial, and major events.
UK Athletics CEO Joanna Coates said: “This is a significant opportunity for the sport and the first time that all five governing bodies have come together as equal partners to build a united strategy for athletics in the UK, one that they will deliver together in collaboration.
“This is a key development as outlined in the Dame Sue Street review of UK Athletics published in May 2020. The co-development of a long-term strategy and framework agreement for athletics across the UK, with an ethical decision-making culture and a new communications strategy will ensure that we address the sport’s long-term issues.
“I’m delighted that we are all united behind these three aspirations and that the new working group format will ensure we are working jointly on these key priority areas.”
Kerry Woods, Athletics Northern Ireland said: “Athletics Northern Ireland is looking forward to continuing to work collaboratively with UKA and the other Home Countries in the delivery of this new Strategy. It is an opportunity for us to develop and grow the sport across Northern Ireland and we eagerly anticipate the prospect of being involved in all areas.”
Chris Jones, CEO of England Athletics said: “The development of a joined-up UK-wide strategy for the sport through to 2032, together with a greater clarity of roles and responsibilities, are important milestones behind which we can all pull together to deliver success.
“This will ensure that we are firstly, and importantly, collectively aligned on the longer term priorities for the sport and, secondly, that we work collaboratively and connectively as organisations to make the best use of our available resources to ultimately give the sport the best chance of success from grassroots participation through to podium. It has taken a collective effort to get to this stage but the work has only just started. It will require a concerted effort, and ownership, from all to deliver the ambition set out in the strategy.”
Mark Munro, CEO of Scottish Athletics said: “It is hugely important that the leadership and governance of the sport across the UK moves forward and we are delighted to see the progress to date through the framework agreement and changes at board level.
“However, arguably more important is how we collaborate and work effectively to support the sport at a delivery level. With a new structure across the working groups, shared resources and clear action plans, we feel this can only be a positive for the future of the athletics community across the UK.”
James Williams, CEO of Welsh Athletics said: “We are committed to working with our partners at UK Athletics and the Home Countries. The way we have shared the challenge of COVID has demonstrated how collectively we can be far stronger than working independently. I look forward to the next period and continuing to develop this fantastic sport of ours, and by putting the athlete at the heart of the decision making process, I am sure that we can create a stronger sport for all to enjoy.”
Sally Munday, CEO of UK Sport said: “Today’s announcement of a new UK-wide strategic plan for athletics is an important milestone for the sport in enabling it to flourish at all levels. We remain committed to supporting UKA and the Home Country Athletics Federations as they progress in their work to deliver on all aspects of the Change Plan for the sport, which followed the independent review earlier in the year.”