Six months after joining and a week into the new year, British Elite Athletes Association CEO Anna Watkins has shared the below update, reflecting on a busy 2022 and exciting times ahead.
Almost a week into the new year and 2023 already feels like an exciting time for elite athletes, as well as for us here at the British Elite Athletes Association.
The opportunities ahead of us are built on hard work across sport throughout 2022, the year I joined the BEAA.
It was an exciting time to begin, given how solid our current standing is. Our reputation is strong, and it’s growing stronger still: our casework is recommended almost without exception by athletes who are pleased with the services we provide.
I’ve used the last six months to build relationships across high-performance sport, and to show what we offer in addition to turning up when called upon. We’ve started to roll-out some of our workshops, be more deliberate in selection and mediation support, and to bring in former elite athletes to use their experience to help the next generation.
"Our reputation is strong, and it’s growing stronger still: our casework is recommended almost without exception by athletes who are pleased with the services we provide."
And what really hooked me when starting at the BEAA was our ongoing alumni project to connect former athletes. We’ve worked really hard on that and I know this year will see the outcome. As a former athlete I can’t wait to connect with others in a private network, and hope this proves to be an exciting project for plenty in our field.
The bulk of our caseload in 2022 came around selection, communication and safeguarding issues, and in our support of gymnasts involved in the Whyte Review. Selection in particular will continue to be a major part of our work in 2023 as we approach the Paris Olympics and Paralympics, so our highly-trained support team have a busy year ahead to help sports lead the way in mitigating the strains of a stressful period for athletes.
The Whyte Review reinforced our understanding of sport’s mechanisms, the role of coaching, and the support coaches need to do a difficult job. I feel it’s important to recognise that gymnastics is now leading the way in many areas, and as a sport that’s been through a lot it now makes the running for a range of aspects in athlete welfare.
Given the above work and more across my first six months, I’m more enthused by the BEAA’s role than ever before.
It’s an exciting time in the industry too because there’s a will to create a generational shift in how sport is managed, and Great Britain is at the foreground of that. There are enough people leading on different fronts to make me confident that we’ll get there; look at the areas of coaching excellence, brilliant communication structures, and those defining regulation to protect and develop coaches. These pieces of the system are all bubbling away to create new best practices across our sports – and the momentum is there to sustain them.
Looking ahead, in 2023 I’d like the BEEA to stand for athletes as a community. We provide good, strong services and want to bring each of you closer to us as an organisation, to use your voice to shape us and the wider system, and for you to feel part of something as a current or former elite athlete. We’re all athletes and we all have a shared connection and understanding, so I hope you can feel that this year the BEAA is a home to meet, connect and learn as a collective.
Finally, a reminder to those of you reading this: the British Elite Athletes Association is here for you, our services are available, and you’ll see us on-hand throughout the year. Keep an eye out for us as we increase our digital presence too, and as we reach you, please do engage with us and each other. There’s a new, exciting and positive year ahead.
Dr Anna Watkins MBE OLY
CEO, British Elite Athletes Association