Athlete Representatives are a core part of the BEAA’s support and representation for elite athletes.
Based across different elite sports, Athlete Representatives are facilitated and trained by the BEAA to provide a listening ear and a voice to their World Class Programme peers.
Double Commonwealth Games team champion Kelly Simm has been one of gymnastics’ Athlete Reps for around five years. She took on the role to develop her skills beyond sport, and recently completed an online safeguarding workshop led by the Child Protection in Sport Unit and Ann Craft Trust.
“If anybody [has] any problems or worries they can come to you and you’re responsible to either signpost them, pass it on, or be the voice to speak with the relevant leadership,” she says.
“It’s to be that point if anybody needs you… or a coach might say: ‘As an Athlete Rep, you go and tell this to the girls.’”
Gymnastics isn’t a centralised sport, so athletes have relatively little contact time together. Kelly says this poses a challenge to the Athlete Reps but that they’re working to develop the support for elite gymnasts across Britain.
“We’re having meetings about how the rep role can be more useful, be more accessible to the different athletes. It’s great those conversations are there and there are people in place.
“We came together with the men’s reps and with the other discipline’s reps to have meetings and it was really great to see how they did things.
“You get to discuss what’s going on in your discipline and bounce off ideas for things you might have been struggling with that maybe the others are as well. It’s really good to learn off each other.”
The BEAA facilitates training for Athlete Reps on issues such as mental health support, with the latest course focusing on how to handle safeguarding concerns. Participants were reminded of signposting and encouraged to consider the most appropriate responses to a range of situations.
Kelly says hearing how other sports’ representatives support their peers gave her food for thought.
“There were athletes from different sports on it, which was brilliant because you get to see how everybody does it, how all the different sports work and what works for them.
“Sometimes you get these different scenarios and don’t know what to do, and when you’re the sole name you want to be able to help when and if something comes up. [You want to] know what to do and feel more confident. That was the main thing: you want to feel as confident as you can in the role.
“Some things we’d never come across before but other people said they’d had similar. It really tested us and opened up discussion points. I think it’s made me think about a lot of different things: what you could do or where you could go.”
The BEAA can help to set up Athlete Representatives in any of our sports, and we encourage our members to get involved when the opportunity arises.
Kelly’s advice for an aspiring Athlete Rep? Go for it. “If you’re worried that you’re not sure what to do, there are so many people around to help you. There is so much different training and so many places to reach out.
“So don’t not apply because you’re nervous that you won’t be able to do a good job. There are so many people who can help you and you can develop yourself in so many ways, get more confident and make a difference to your team – not just on the competition floor.”
Each sport runs their own recruitment of Athlete Representatives, and decides whether to introduce them or not. If you would like to become one, or would like to explore introducing Athlete Reps to your sport, we can help you. Reach out through our support channels and one of our Athlete Support Managers will advise.
Lead image: British Gymnastics