BAC Chair, Vicki Aggar, says that the role of the organisation has never been more vital, as she prepares for her second term in the job.
Aggar’s second four-year spell as Chair was last week endorsed by the BAC’s membership at its AGM, and comes as the organisation has revealed a 140% increase in demand for its services in 2020, as the landscape and culture within British high-performance sport continues to evolve.
The number of athletes who sought out and made use of the BAC’s extensive athlete support measures in 2020 represents a staggering 270% increase from 2018, and Aggar – who competed and medalled for Great Britain in the 2008 Beijing Paralympics – believes that is a clear sign of how the relationship between athletes and the high-performance network has moved on.
“The rise in the number of athletes being supported by the BAC is dramatic, even compared to as recently as 2019,” she explains.
“While people may look at those figures and see evidence that there are problems within the system, I see it as an enormous positive that more and more athletes are now choosing to come to us, trusting in us to provide them with the right advice, support and guidance, regardless of their issue.
“The fact that there is more awareness of the support network, more willingness among athletes to seek out help rather than to attempt to face their problems alone, and more discussion about how, culturally, we can continue to improve athlete experience, is incredibly encouraging, and the BAC being right at the forefront of this progress is a source of great pride to me.”
To maintain that progress, the BAC has diversified and evolved during Aggar’s first term as Chair, and she believes a continuation of this process is vital in ensuring that British sport continues to develop in the right way.
“Our role within the system has never been more important,” she continues.
“As well as growing and developing our Athlete Support Team, we have also recognised the need for us to play a leading role in truly establishing the athlete voice. We brought on board former gymnast and Olympic medallist Kristian Thomas to lead on this work as our Athlete Engagement Manager, and his work so far has helped to educate and give confidence to athletes acting as their sport’s Athlete Representatives – ensuring that the athlete voice is heard and acted upon within NGBs.
“We have broadened the scope of our work, with sports outside of the high-performance network, notably netball, recognising our value and reaching out to us to provide a service to their athletes.
“There is also a recognition across sport that more needs to be done for athletes transitioning away from World Class Programmes, and we are intent on using our expertise and existing positive relationships to create a space in which athletes leaving their sport can continue to benefit from a consistent, high level of support.”
“While projects such as our focus on alumni are already in progress, over the next four years we’ll continue to assess and adapt to ways in which we can develop our work further, and ensure that athlete experience and athlete welfare is prioritised in genuine, tangible terms, and truly embedded into British sporting culture.
“The BAC has always been an organisation I’ve been very proud to chair, however the pivotal and valued nature of the role we now have within the British high-performance system, evidenced by the growing number of athletes using our services, has only intensified that pride.”
Two of the athletes to approve Aggar’s re-election at last week’s AGM were shooter Lorraine Lambert and wheelchair racer Hannah Cockroft.
Five-time Paralympic champion Cockroft said:
“It’s great to see this consistency of leadership at the BAC. The organisation provides an essential service for the entire system, and as an athlete and a BAC ambassador, I’m delighted to see Vicki re-elected as Chair.”
Lambert, who represented Great Britain in Rio, and has been selected to compete at her second Paralympic Games in Tokyo, added:
“Having seen the BAC go from strength to strength over the last four years, I was pleased to approve Vicki’s re-election on behalf of the organisation’s membership. The BAC is continuing to move forward and gain momentum, and I’m very confident that Vicki is the right person to lead the organisation, given her own personal experiences, passion and drive.”
A summary of the BAC’s AGM is available here.