The Voice of Great Britain's Elite Athletes
It was a pleasure to see a healthy turnout from a wide range of sports for the BAC’s Athletes Day on September 9th. It was my first event in my new role, so like a lot of people there, it was a great chance to see the BAC in action and understand more about how the organisation can help athletes. The event was aimed around reaching out beyond your sport, and the intention was to give athletes some practical tools and knowledge to help each of us organise our sponsorship and media affairs in the best possible way. Our sporting chances can be helped by good sponsorship and positive media relations, because it frees us up to concentrate on training and competing without worrying about money or the latest twitterstorm.
Heather Fell was the keynote speaker, and gave a fascinating insight into the ups and downs of her career, culminating in her Modern Pentathlon Olympic medal in Beijing. All the way through her time competing she had to negotiate a path that saw her lose and gain funding, be moved around from place to place and battle for selection. Amongst all that it was vital that she kept a positive public image so that she could find sponsorship in order to keep training, and also incidentally it gave her a fabulous platform to move on after retirement to her career in presenting and journalism. One of the most useful messages that I took away from her talk was the need to keep good relations locally- keeping your local paper up to date with what you’re doing often helps when trying to get local companies to help you, in Heather’s case a brewery!
Athletes then had a chance to attend workshops on sponsorship, agents and media relations, run by really brilliant experts in those fields. These were very well attended and packed full of useful tips. I made it into the sponsorship and media workshops and found myself scribbling furiously the whole way through. I’d be astonished if an athlete who followed the sound advice given, didn’t manage to improve their profile, find a new sponsor or negotiate a smarter contract.
Good luck to all those who came along with your endeavors both on and off the field of play. We’ll definitely be running another Athlete Day next year so watch this space for information, it will be another chance to get a new skill set and move your career on to the next step.
Anna Watkins, Chair of the Athlete Advisory Group