Nicola Benavente joins UK Sport female coaches leadership programme

British Rowing World Class Start coach Nicola will be mentored by British Athletics’ Paula Dunn MBE

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Nicola Benavente

UK Sport’s new female coaches leadership programme will see 27 coaches from 15 sports coming together as part of a plan to more than double female representation within Olympic and Paralympic high-performance coaches by Paris 2024.

Eight highly respected coaches will lead a six-month programme for 19 of the most promising coaches in the UK, all of whom have been identified as having the potential to coach at the summer and winter Olympic and Paralympic Games from Paris 2024 and beyond.

British Rowing’s Nicola Benavente, the World Class Start talent development coach in Nottingham, will join the programme to support her in her coaching journey.

Nicola said: “I’m so pleased to be joining the UK Sport female coaches leadership programme. It’s a great opportunity to learn from people from other sports and see other successful female coaches in action.”

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Jane Figueiredo (diving), Claire Morrison (boccia), Paula Dunn (para athletics), Kate Howey (judo), Mel Marshall (swimming), Bex Milnes (para triathlon) and Tracy Whittaker-Smith (trampolining) will be coach leaders while Karen Brown, who spent over 15 years as a coach for Great Britain Hockey and England Hockey, will act as a mentor throughout.

The 19 participating coaches will be offered key support and development opportunities, including times to observe an assigned coach leader in their environment The programme will focus on three key areas, leadership, environment and transition, all of which are fundamental to the coaching development journey. The 19 coaches and their pairings are:

·       Paula Dunn: Nicola Benavente (rowing), Hannah Brown (canoeing)

·       Jane Figueiredo: Christine Bloomfield-Harrison (athletics), Jody Kime (artistic gymnastics), Lisa Letchford (hockey)

·       Kate Howey: Jenny Leeming (diving), Shani Palmer (athletics), Jo Ryding (alpine skiing)

·       Mel Marshall: Leah Crane (climbing), Monica Greenwood (cycling), Sarah Kelleher (hockey), Coral Nourrice (athletics)

·       Bex Milnes: Danielle Brayson (swimming), Naomi Johnston (cycling)

·       Claire Morrison: Katie Arup (fencing), Lysa Jones (golf)

·       Tracy Whittaker-Smith: Emma Trott (cycling), Laura Turner-Alleyne (athletics), Christy Mackinnon (alpine skiing)

Sally Munday, CEO at UK Sport, said: “It is really exciting to see such a large number of coaches from right across our high-performance community involved in this programme. We have an amazing group of coach leaders, who are the trailblazers and the people doing it now, and the opportunity for the 19 promising coaches to learn from them – as well as each other – is going to be incredible.

“UK Sport is determined to see greater diversity across the high-performance community and I know the role that I can play in championing this programme. I believe that each of the participants will become role models for the next generation of coaches and will truly enable us to reach our aims and ambitions for female coaches.

“I want to be able to reflect back that this was a turning point of truly making our workforce, in particular our coaching workforce, in the high-performance community far more diverse and a lot more equal from a gender perspective.”

Jane Figueiredo, High Performance Centre Head Coach at the London Aquatics Centre, said: “I’m so humbled and honoured to be a part of this UK Sport leadership programme, aiming to add increasing representation of female coaches in the Olympic and Paralympic Games. This programme speaks to my passion for mentoring and helping female coaches in all sports realise their dreams of coaching at the highest levels. I can’t wait to have a positive influence with the female coaches and share my knowledge and experience with them, so they may someday be at the top of their profession.”

At present, approximately only 10% of coaching positions within the high-performance community in the UK are held by women. The leadership programme forms part of UK Sport’s long-term plan to address the current under-representation of female coaches at all levels of the talent pathway within the high-performance community.

The first target of this long-term plan is to ensure that by the Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2024, the number of female coaches available to Team GB and ParalympicsGB has more than doubled to 25%.

UK Sport collaborated with Performance Directors, Coach Developers and Talent Pathway Managers within the Olympic and Paralympic high-performance community, as well as UK Coaching, on nominating female coaches to be part of the programme.

It arises from UK Sport’s People Development Team, working in partnership with sports and stakeholders to address diversity and inclusion ambitions, removing barriers and introducing bespoke programmes with gender the first characteristic and other initiatives to follow.

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