Five British judoka have joined a pioneering athlete mentoring programme which matches young aspiring athletes (aged 15-24) with world-class champions to develop skills both in their sport performance and for life beyond sport.
Chris Skelley, Steph Inglis, Tom Reed, Andy Burns and Aaron Turner have all joined the True Athlete Project (TAP) Global Mentoring Programme which matches Olympic/Paralympic/elite athletes with young, committed athletes for a year-long, transformational learning experience.
Chris is mentoring Cameron, a young distance runner from Salisbury who has to cope with both autism and human growth hormone deficiency.
Steph is working with Chloe, a basketball star from Edinburgh hoping to have a career playing for a professional team.
Tom is mentoring young rower Mark, who won the single, double and quadruple skull race at the Zambia National Regatta.
Andy currently works as Head of Performance Support in Archery and will be helping boxer Juwayn on his journey to represent Great Britain at the Olympic Games.
Aaron is mentoring young badminton star Nathan who has represented England since the age of 11.
TAP aims to bring about a more compassionate culture of sport through a range of innovative, mindfulness-based programs at all levels of sport.
In addition to the regular 1-1 mentoring sessions there is a holistic curriculum based on five themes: Performance, Identity & Values, Mindfulness, Community responsibility and Nature & Connectedness.
Mentees get the majority of their ‘training’ through their mentors, supplemented with some group workshops throughout the year, whilst the mentors receive an array of training in mentoring and communication skills; how to work with their mentee on the themes of the curriculum, and the key elements of the TAP approach and philosophy.
The aim of the programme is to support the person behind the young athlete, and prove that when the person flourishes, so does their sporting performance.
Speaking about his involvement in the programme, Chris said: “It is a real privilege to be contributing to this project, I have been fortunate to learn from some incredible athletes throughout my career, and to now be in a position where I can share what I have learned with other athletes is amazing.”
Norman Lamb, former UK Health Minister & TAP advisory board member said: “I am a strong supporter of The True Athlete Project. It is an inspired initiative to demonstrate the power of sport as a force for good. And it can be of massive value to individual sportsmen and women, helping them achieve mental well-being.”