September 2022, Articles

Talent identification, preparation and support with an eye to LA and Brisbane

While considerable attention Is already being applied to athletes focused on Paris 2024, the Regional Pathways team, led by Tracey Paterson, has its eye on what needs to be done to identify and support the athletes who will represent New Zealand in 2028 and 2032.

The Performance Pathways Team will work with National Sporting Organisations and their regional partners through the remainder of 2022 and 2023 on a pilot project based in Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin.

Tracey says there are four key goals for the pilot project: identify and support pre-high performance athletes in their transition into high performance, gather information that will enhance the regional talent pipelines, better understand regional athletes needs and how HPSNZ can effectively resource the regions, and inform strategies to sustain repeatable athlete success in 2028 and 2032.

Creating regional connections and accessibility to development support is critical to our ability to enhance the quality and preparation of future elite athletes and coaches for future pathways, according to the Head of Performance Pathways, Tracey Paterson.

“We know the current cohort of athletes focused on Paris 2024 will have had, on average, 12 years of system support by the time they arrive in Paris,” says Tracey.

“What we also know is the pool of athletes who will form the Olympic teams for LA 2028 and Brisbane 2032 are currently under 21, living at home, navigating key life and sport transitions and sourcing their support services on an ad hoc basis.  It is likely our first time Olympians in Brisbane 2032 are currently in year 9 or 10 at their local school, depending on the sport.”

The regional project priorities are fourfold: regional talent and transition leadership, facilitating NSO and RSO connections, providing regional advocacy and supporting regional partner relationships, says Tracey.

“These will ensure a holistic approach to athlete development and transition management, balancing short and long term demands for success in sport and life, facilitate alignment of RSO and NSO performance pathways to ensure athletes have clarity, connection and consistency, provide benchmarks for regional athletes against evidence-based pathways, and support delivery of quality regional expertise and learning environments.”

A critical element of the pilot project Is the initial identification of athletes, confirming they have the right attributes, abilities and motivation for future international success.

Athletes may be identified by RSOs who will bring them to the attention of the NSO, ideally with intelligence that supports the NSO’s picture of performance.  The HPSNZ lead role will be to facilitate connection between NSOs, RSOs and their key regional partners to achieve the outcome.

“Identified athletes will be supported by a range of HPSNZ activities tailored to their needs and they will be confirmed by their NSOs on selection for national programmes,” says Tracey.

“Regional athletes and coaches that demonstrate transition readiness, future performance attributes and ambitions will be connected to national pathways.

“They will gain an understanding about NSO development priorities to help them successfully navigate key transitions and optimise their future potential, provide them with more planning to deal with multiple commitments in life and sport and develop awareness and identity in sport and life to enable future decision making.”

Sports accepted into the pilot programme will establish a Circle of Support and case management process for all identified athletes.

“The Circle of Support will be implemented by a trained independent external facilitator, each identified athlete will have a holistic IPP (Individual Performance Plan) and will receive regular mentoring, monitoring and assistance to develop a coherent plan across their key stakeholders, balancing the short and long term goals which is key,” says Tracey.

Athletes will also have direct access to HPSNZ providers, will be given access to an individualised and supervised Strength & Conditioning programme if needed and will undergo a transition readiness assessment to support their preparation for future pathways.

The Performance Pathways 2022/23 project, which will contribute to HPSNZ’s 2024 Strategy, aims to identify and support up to 500 new pre-high performance athletes.

Who will be representing New Zealand in 2028 and 2032?