chapter  5
23 Pages

Elite Success and/or Increased Participation

Not so long ago it was common to represent the sport policy subsector as constituting a continuum in the shape of a pyramid with four distinct levels. The base comprised the foundation level and was the stage at which young people learnt basic generic sports skills. The school, with trained physical education teachers (at least in secondary schools), was central to service delivery at this level and prepared young people to move upwards to the participation (or community sport) level where adults would be catered for by a combination of public, voluntary and commercial service providers. Those who wanted to take part in organised competitive sport would do so at the performance level mainly through the network of 100,000 or so sports clubs in England affi liated to their parent national governing body. The pinnacle of the pyramid was the excellence level occupied by athletes competing in international competition often as full-time sportsmen and -women. The pyramid, as a visual metaphor, indicated not only the notion of progression, but more importantly indicated the conceptual, organisational and practical unity of interest between the young person learning basic coordination skills and the most accomplished high-performance athlete. The latter would have acquired at least some of her foundational skills, in tennis, for example, at school from PE teachers and possibly visiting coaches in after-school sports clubs which were part of the School Sport Partnership. She might then have progressed to playing at a local club and taken part in inter-club competitions at which she might have been talentspotted by a Lawn Tennis Association coach and asked to take part in a trial for a regional development squad. From there she would move through the hierarchy of regional and national competitions, before she turns professional and joins the Women’s Tennis Association competition circuit.