Is this the end for Jersey's sport development officers?
RECENTLY departed sports development officers will not be followed by like-for-like replacements, as Jersey Sport ramp up their community coaching programmes in Island primary schools.
The independent sporting body is set to expand its successful physical literacy scheme in 2018 in a bid to improve well-being and performance at grassroot level – a move which follows the loss of four States-backed sport coaches since November 2016.
The departures of Mark Constable (badminton), Nick Taylor (squash), David Felton (rugby) and Craig Gascoyne (table tennis) have come during a period of transition for Island sport, but none of those development roles will be retained per se, due to a lack of sufficient funding.
Instead, Jersey Sport – now in charge of community sports projects – will fill the void and have recruited three new coaches to help develop and improve key movement skills in children under 12.
Jersey Sport chief executive Catriona McAllister said: ‘They [officers] are being replaced, but not by other development officers.
‘In partnership with the sports we’re adding resources to our physical literacy programme and focusing on the core skills required for sports such as tennis, squash and table tennis.
‘We’ve looked at the schools where we know we have children with poor physical literacy and we’re putting additional resources there. And we’re doing case studies so that we can hopefully prove that we are making a difference. Then we can make a strong case for having more specialists in primary schools.’
David Kennedy, Jersey Sport’s general manager, said: ‘In some cases [sports associations] felt that, while the programme had been successful, the scope and responsibilities of the officers had been too broad.
‘As a result a more targeted approach to developing their sport was required. This has meant that Jersey Sport has reallocated the funding into a physical literacy programme which aims to equip pupils with fundamental skills that will help them take up and enjoy sport.’
Jersey now has just three full-time officers promoting their respective sports, thanks to financial support from associations and national governing bodies.
Netball, cricket and football still have dedicated development coaches, with 50 per cent of their financial backing coming from England Netball, the ICC/ECB and FA respectively. Development officer roles in Jersey have only ever been part-funded by the public purse.