“Inspire a generation” – but what does that really mean?

I spent a very happy 10 days volunteering at the London 2012 Paralympic Games.  It really was a “once in a lifetime experience”…although unlike Tim Vine, I am already looking for an opportunity to do it again.

The legacy aspiration of the London 2012 Games was to “inspire a generation” – but what does this really mean, for sports coaches and administrators, as we move into 2013?

The media focus on gold medals (and the New Years’ Honours) might just be missing the point.

We do need to keep finding more heroes.  But, perhaps even more importantly, we also need the generation of enthusiasts who will never appear at the Olympics or Paralympics (well – maybe as volunteers!) but who will contribute to the sporting infrastructure from which those heroes will emerge.

I have written previously about the challenge of coaching specifically for trials – two years on, and I feel better qualified to answer my question.  With a few very specific provisos, I don’t think we should try to coach the knowledge needed to “pass” trials.  Rather, if we can develop well-rounded individuals, better able to think for themselves, I rather suspect that they will do very well in trials without any “cramming”.

The exception to this might be when a player returns from a preliminary trial with some very specific feedback – “learn how to swing the ball”, or “you fall over when you on-drive” – then we have something concrete to work on.

At the end-of-season presentation supper, our Colts’ Manager spoke proudly about the Club’s success at having multiple representations at County and District level.  He went as far as to congratulate the Coaching team on this – gratifying, except that the best young players (the ones playing representative cricket at U11 and U13) have all arrived with the basics in place, at 8 years’ old!  With them, our biggest challenge is to keep them enthused, and not to spoil them by over-coaching.

We probably made much more impact with the other 10 or 12 in each age-group squad, who do so much more than just “make up the numbers”.

The real strength of the Colts’ section is in the depth of talent.  Keeping them all engaged is going to be the challenge – during matches, in practice and, crucially for the future of the Club (and the game of cricket itself), after Colts’ cricket ends for them.

And if we can achieve that, then we might just match up to Lord Coe’s aspiration to truly Inspire a Generation.

Published by Andrew Beaven

Cricket coach, fascinated by the possibilities offered by the game. More formally - ECB level 2 cricket coach; ECB National Programmes (All Stars & Dynamos Cricket) Activator Tutor; Chance to Shine & Team Up (cricket) deliverer; ECB ACO umpire.

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