Embarking on a Journey Back to its Roots
Since being invited to join the Parkour UK Workforce Sub-Committee 6 months ago it has been a privilege to witness and contribute to a fascinating journey where a sport is determined to provide great experiences not only for its participants but for its workforce too. The purpose of this committee is to develop and grow a Parkour ecosystem where the people that are the catalysts for the sport; the volunteers, coaches, tutors, administrators and private providers feel supported and valued to meet the needs of their customers as well as their own. To achieve this ambition the makeup of the committee consists of a range of technical Parkour experts and individuals with broader coaching and workforce development knowledge.
It is a vibrant group that is passionate about coaching and improving the journey its people who are delivering Parkour are on. In listening to the lived experiences of those members who are far more knowledgeable on the sport than I, it feels like it is a journey back to its roots. It is this notion that excites me as my limited perception of Parkour is one that appears grounded in a feeling of freedom, exploration and a strong sense of community.
As in society, sport and physical activity is changing and the 12m or so participants in receipt of coaching every year are demanding a more personalised experience that aligns with their own motivations and aspirations for being active. Like a number of organisations who exist to help people get and stay active, Parkour UK have recognised the fundamental role its people play and have a clear ambition to reframe coaching and place greater value on supporting its coaching workforce, whether they are volunteers or paid professionals.
Servicing the Short Term to Thrive in the Long Term
Coaching has been adversely impacted over the last 12 months as a result of the pandemic and Parkour UK acknowledge there are many individual circumstances where coaches, providers and school teachers require immediate support to ensure they are able to continue to engage the people in front of them effectively. Parkour UK are working hard to service that need by providing emergency coaching courses and redesigning various course content and delivery.
However, beyond the short term is a bolder long-term vision to create a more individualised and situated learning and development experience for its coaching workforce. What does that mean you ask? In short Parkour UK are aiming to establish the roots of the sport as prominent features in supporting the development of its future coaching workforce.
At the last Workforce committee meeting in April I listened to the stories of those within the group with many years of practising and delivering Parkour. They speak to a higher purpose of the sport being centred in; promoting a sense of curiosity about self, nurturing and growing an inclusive community, connecting with others to stretch the boundaries of what is possible, fostering environments built around exploration, and supporting a self-improvement culture that permeates across the entire Parkour eco-system.
For a relative outsider who has a keen interest in coaching and supporting people to realise the potential that they wish to achieve these are truly exciting steps to be considering.
Connecting its Roots to Coaching
Parkour UK are at the beginning of this journey and are keen to hear from its community to help them understand how they might achieve this vision. With that said, even in these early days a few fragments have emerged on this potential direction of travel;
- Nurture a learning and development philosophy that centres on inclusion and the welfare of its people
- Grow a coach development offer that is shaped by the Parkour Community
- Offer a blend of contextual face to face and digital learning and development opportunities built around the idea of exploration
- Provide situated coach developer opportunities that support, positively challenge and stetch individuals relevant to their specific context
- Foster a diverse network of Parkour coaches across a range of settings where they are curious to learn, share and develop together
Creating an ecosystem of this nature will take time and effort and fundamental to its success is bringing the Parkour Community on the journey working with them to shape a future everyone wants to be a part of. If this can be achieved over the next 5 years we would like to think that Parkour will have a coaching workforce made up of amazing people with the behaviours, knowledge and skills to offer great experiences to many more participants and that those participants receive a great experience to the extent where they build a lifelong passion and desire to be active.
And lastly, why is this important to me. Well, for two reasons. Firstly, I am passionate about coaching, my role at Sport England is to support the sector to create a highly respected, valued and motivated volunteer and professional coaching workforce that is representative of the communities they serve and being involved in this project aligns with that shared ambition. And secondly, on a more personal level I am a father of a 6 year old who has been attending Parkour classes in Milton Keynes with Paramount Parkour since last September and I am keen to ensure his experiences and those of every child who enter a Parkour environment are truly transformational for their a physical, mental and social well-being.
Development Manager (Coaching & Professional Workforce)