New wave of sport talent converges in TASS welcome webinar

* Aim is for MMU to become 'go-to university' for elite athletes, says Jérôme Read, the head of performance sport

THURSDAY evening saw the region’s latest crop of elite athletes come together for the first time, in an academic webinar set up by the university and TASS to highlight the work being done by the organisation in the development of their careers.

TASS, the Talented Athlete Scholarship Scheme, is a task scheme funded by the National Governing Bodies of sport, and picks up 90 per cent of the nation’s talented student athletes – the remaining 10% going to uni systems like MMU’s scholar scheme. MMU – one of 37 TASS delivery sites – has been involved in the task scheme since 2009, and according to the university’s Performance Sports Manager Jérôme Read the system is just getting better.

Jérôme said: “We’ve been building a platform for the university to be a go-to place for elite up-and-coming athletes, and it’s vital the university understands the need for performance sports to be front and centre.

“Our scheme allows the athletes to develop as a person as well as performance. There’s a value and worth in allowing people to develop in life alongside sport.”

With help from TASS, the university will provide a number of training services in sectors such as Strength and Conditioning, Physiotherapy, Personal Development and more. With such a diverse number of sports and sportspeople on offer – variety in service and facilitation is a necessity.

2020/21’s scheme will see a number of sports being represented by their talents respectively, such as; fencing’s Alexandra Powell, para-football’s Azeem Amir and Liam Spinks, netball’s Savannah Dada-Mascoll, Stacey Tankoua and Berri Neil, basketball’s Omari Smith, Jayden Martin, Jordan Whelan and Josh Lloyd, snowsports’ Rob Holmes, swimming’s Katie Matts, Jamie Ingram, Sam Budd and Amy Davies, women’s football’s Khiara Keating and Mia Ross and wheelchair basketball’s Tyler Baines.

Later in the event, future England Rose hopeful and current England u17 netballer Stacey Tankoua reflected on the opportunities and support being given to her. She said: “It’s been a bit crazy, especially with how it started out, and I’m just 16 still. It’s been a crazy journey. I’m definitely glad I have a team that will get the best out of me, given the fact they’re able to understand the reasons behind my development.”

Fencer Alexandra Powell, who has seen her training affected by the COVID outbreak, is looking forward to what the scheme will bring. She highlighted the impact close relationships formed within the scheme will have on her progression. She said: “It’s been quite a difficult few months with COVID, not being able to train at all. I was meant to go to the World Championships in America in March but that didn’t go ahead, so my aim for this year is to get to the university games if they go ahead. So it’s absolutely amazing, to be honest, to be part of something where everyone else is also working towards similar goals.”

Pictured: Fencer Alex Powell at the 2019 World Championships in Toruń, Poland (courtesy of Alex Powell)