Ending the “brain drain” in UK sport:
THREE of Britain’s elite level athletes are hoping to swap the podium for the boardroom in a bid to become the sporting leaders of the future.
Former Olympians Kelly Sotherton, Goldie Sayers and Beth Tweddle will be among the 2017 cohort studying for the VSI Masters in Sporting Directorship at the Centre for Sports Business accredited by the University of Salford in partnership with VSI.
Speaking at the VSI Global Summit for Executive Directors at MediaCityUK this week, the trio described how athletes approaching the end of their playing career can find it difficult to transition into the boardroom.
Former Team GB javelin thrower Goldie Sayers said: “There’s a real brain drain in sport. Athletes finish their careers with so much knowledge and experience but then there are no full time jobs for them to go in to.
“The VSI course is great because it’s upskilling the athletes to understand what’s going on at board level as well as educating board members to have a better understanding of the sporting product that’s being produced.”
VSI Chairman Andy McIntyre explained that the majority of sports organisations, from global football teams to regional athletics clubs, struggle to find executive level employees who can act as a vital link between the commercial ambitions of the board and performance on the field.
He said: “A sporting director needs to have a performance background tied with commercial and strategic leadership background. What we found is that many organisations want to appoint someone like that, but they just can’t find them. We want to create that talent pool.
“We set up this course to end the brain drain in UK sports, we believe that there aren’t enough elite sportspeople at boardroom level.”
British Olympian Kelly Sotherton is among those hoping that the experience will help her make a positive impact on her sport.
“I’m doing this to make myself credible,” she said. “Being an athlete opens doors and creates opportunities but people will still ask ‘what do you know about strategy and implementation’.
“I want to be a CEO and make my sport the best it can be and I think you need the academic qualification to make that happen.”
Bronze medallist gymnast Beth Tweddle hopes the course will help add to a skill set she has developed throughout a career in elite level sport.
She said: “I think the leadership, perseverance and resilience we have built up over the years will really help us going forward.”
VSI co-founder Tony Faulkner said: “VSI have created a course which focuses on the need for strategic leadership in sport. When high profile jobs become available I think the sporting world will be looking to VSI and the Centre for Sports Business to produce the leaders of the future.”
For further information on the VSI MSc in Sports Directorship please contact:
Tel: 0845 45 99 765