Edition number 59; dateline 2 March 2012

Water safety, West African style
Local volunteers living in Cameroon, West Africa have learned essential lifesaving and water skills following to a joint initiative by the Swimming Teachers’ Association (STA) and the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI). Following an invitation from RLSS Cameroon, the two British charities sent a three-person team to deliver a six-day Swim Survive course that covered basic first aid, resuscitation, safety in open water environments and the technical knowledge and practical skills required to teach basic swimming and survival skills. According to the International Lifesaving Saving Federation, some 1.2 million lives are lost to drowning each year, making it a bigger killer than malaria, and the third leading cause of unintentional injury and death globally behind motor vehicle collisions and falls. World Health Organisation figures show low- and middle-income countries accounting for 96% of unintentional drowning deaths, with drowning death rates highest in the WHO African Region, where rates are more than eight times higher than in Australia or the USA.

Women boxing clever with ABAE
The Amateur Boxing Association of England has launched a new competition for senior female boxers as part of its commitment to investing in women’s boxing and providing increased competitive opportunities for women and girls. The Women’s Box Series is for senior boxers and is split into three categories: boxers with fewer than 2 bouts, boxers with 3 to 10 bouts, and boxers with more than 10 bouts. Tom Gilbert, national programmes and participation manager, explained: “One of the biggest challenges to women and girls who want to compete in England is getting a chance to get in the ring and box.” Whether post-bout, press conference punch-ups were to be part of the programme was not discussed.

But let themselves down in the wardrobe department
Fans of an equitable approach to sport will be pleased to hear that women boxers will have the choice of wearing skirts or shorts in the ring at this year’s London Olympics. A spokesman for the International Amateur Boxing Association (AIBA) said their executive committee would vote on a proposed solution to “what has become a controversial issue”. AIBA president Ching-Kuo Wu of Taiwan told a world conference on women and sport in Los Angeles that female fighters would not be forced to wear skirts.

Scottish hockey gets cash for coaches
A new sponsorship deal for Scottish Hockey has been hailed as “a model” by Sportscotland chief executive Stewart Harris, who identified the “professionalisation of coaches” as essential. The governing body’s president Lee Cousins explained that the “substantial” three-year investment from Aberdeen Asset Management would allow the employment of between three and six performance coaches whose work would have substantial “trickle-down” effects into the grassroots game.

Positive OFSTED report for the IoS
The Institute of Swimming, the training arm of the Amateur Swimming Association (ASA), has received a positive report from OFSTED on the technical coaching provided to apprentices. The report rated the overall effectiveness of provision at Grade 2, which equates to ‘good’ on a scale that runs from Grade 1 (outstanding) through to Grade 4 (inadequate). The report also details of the Institute’s work to date, revealing that since 2012 the IoS has engaged 18 leading industry employers to offer a range of apprenticeships and advanced apprenticeships in active leisure, learning and well-being. One hundred apprentices are currently on programmes and a total of 369 apprentices enrolled during the 2010/11 period. Colin Huffen, IoS assistant head, welcomed the inspection report:  “It’s very pleasing, because it confirms we are doing all the right things and highlights just some of the areas in which we are particularly effective.  For example, we have high success rates in making sure that our learners do actually achieve the qualifications they are studying for and complete their learning within the planned time… It’s also reassuring to know that leisure employers have said that the apprenticeship programmes we provide meet their growing business needs.”
More information about employing an apprentice through the IoS is available from a special guide for employers at www.swimming.org
The OFSTED inspection report can be found via www.ofsted.gov.uk

Amaechi backs integrated basketball
Former NBA star and Special Olympics Great Britain ambassador John Amaechi has leant his weight to the launch of the Special Olympics Great Britain Unified Sports programme, which offers people with learning disabilities the opportunity to play sport in the same team as those without learning disabilities for sports training and competition. The programme will see a series of coaching and competition sessions covering a variety of sports, delivered through sport centres, clubs and communities all over the country. Amaechi visited Tower Hamlets College in East London to take part in the first Unified Basketball session of this initiative.

Bureaucrats us? Fie on you.
Sport England have responded to the release of the Department for Media, Culture and Sport Youth Strategy in January 2012 which highlighted the under use of sports facilities on school sites by rejigging its website. At the moment 76% of sports halls, 73% of artificial grass pitches, 29% of swimming pools and 52% of grass pitches in England are located within schools, colleges and other educational institutions; and all too often this means that a lot of the country’s sports facilities sit redundant in the evening and at weekends, while sports clubs and teams are desperately crying out for somewhere to play. The nation’s sports development agency has reacted with aplomb by moving an advice note “from the facilities area” of its website to the support and advice area.

Torch relay dress rehearsal planned
Political activists keen to warm up for the “greatest protest opportunity on earth” will be able to practice on what LOCOG are calling a “full dress rehearsal to test the operations around the Olympic Torch Relay on 20 April.” The rehearsal will take place on the Leicester to Peterborough stretch of the route, an 80-mile journey chosen to represent a typical day in the life of the extended corporate marketing opportunity. The objective is to test the convoy, crew and communications procedures in advance of the 70-day relay so protest groups would be helping if they took the opportunity to glean publicity for their cause.

People news

As spring shows every sign of busting out all over these daffodils are sending out green shoots into new borders:

Valued friend of The Leisure Review Alistair Robertson has become chief executive of Sport Aberdeen after 23 years in the service of Sefton MBC; UKA Chairman Ed Warner has been named as the chairman of the London 2017 IAAF World Athletics Championships Organising Committee. Warner, who led the successful bid to host the event in London, has been appointed by the DCMS and Mayor of London’s office; SkillsActive interim CEO is one Suki Kalirai; CTC (the UK’s national cyclists’ association, apparently) has appointed Gordon Seabright as its new chief executive;  he was previously the commercial director of English Heritage, where he was in charge of Stonehenge; following the untimely death of Graham Dilley last year Loughborough University has appointed Russell Cobb to be their new MMC Universities head coach; Lana Suhova has started work in her new role as PR and marketing manager for the British Swimming Pools Federation; CHOCOLATE  York's Sweet Story (sic) have a whole new team with Michael Constantine, who has joined the attraction as general manager, having recruited Beckie Senior as marketing manager, Jenny Tutty in the role of operations manager and Kirsty Kennedy starting as corporate and hospitality assistant; and the International Centre for Sport Security (ICSS) has expanded its senior executive team with the appointment of Massimiliano Montanari as its new director of International Co-operation and External Relations. Meanwhile, owing to the buy-out of the Capita Symonds sport and leisure function, Tom Pinnington, Simon Molden and Chris Marriott will be joining The Sports Consultancy with immediate effect.

And these guardians of the built environment are looking for new bedding plants for their own ring road roundabouts:

British Basketball are looking for a performance pathway manager and have over £30,000 to give them for one year, after which “funding is dependent”; if you like the sound of working in Windermere the National Trust are after a house steward for Troutbeck and you get to live in for free; the Institute of Swimming is recruiting 9 (nine) tutor/assessors who must have experience of being inspected by Ofsted.




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OPEN WATER SAFETY SCHEME LAUNCHED: Lee Valley Regional Park Authority, home of the 2012 Olympic canoe slalom course, has teamed up with commercial safety company Right Directions  to develop an open water safety management system to cover the 26 miles along the banks of the River Lee from Ware in Hertfordshire, through Essex, to the Thames at East India Dock Basin which it manages. According to Sam Neal from Right Directions, the idea is to  “encourage the use of these types of areas for public enjoyment, and so we need to help organisations ensure the necessary safety measures are in place.” The new programme applies to open water such as lakes, rivers, reservoirs and canals, but can also be transferable to general open and green spaces too.
the world of leisure
The national news from a cultural perspective

Wednesday 15 February
A group of Royal Academicians have called for the government to prevent the sale of the Wedgwood Museum in Stoke-on-Trent. Westminster council is considering reducing the number and noise levels of concerts held in Hyde Park after complaints from local residents. David Cameron is backing calls for a minimum price for alcohol in an effort to tackle the binge drinking culture. The exhibition Mondrian/Nicholson in Parallel opens at the Courtauld Gallery in London.

Thursday 16 February
Happy days: in the 1950s it seems MI5 declined to confirm the FBI’s attempts to label Charlie Chaplin a Bolshevik. Eleven UK model agencies have backed a Cancer Research UK campaign against sunbed tanning and a scientist in the US reckons that Stonehenge was built to create “sonic illusions”. Yeah. Roman Abramovich seems intent on taking Chelsea across the Brompton Cemetery to Earls Court, having objected to planning applications for the exhibition site to be redeveloped as residential property. The velodrome test event brings the UCI World Cup and British medals to the Olympic park. One of mountaineering’s periodic ethical debates erupts, prompted by the removal of hundreds of bolts on the south-east ridge of Cerro Torre in Patagonia. In South Africa Thandi Sibisi becomes the first woman in the country to open a major art gallery.

Friday 17 February
Did you feel a shiver? Rupert Murdoch was back in the UK to announce the much-predicted Sun on Sunday. Portsmouth FC are docked 10 points as a result of going into administration, as are Glasgow Rangers. A world-record time for Pendleton and Varnish in winning the women’s team sprint and former cricketer Mervyn Westfield is jailed for his part in a spot-fixing conspiracy during a county match.

Saturday 18 February
TV producer Peter Bazalgette, the man who brought Big Brother to our screens, feels able to criticise the BBC’s Sunday-night scheduling on the grounds that it has little to offer younger viewers. Carlisle is the latest city to be named as the UK’s happiest in some survey or other. Five hundred episodes and still going gloriously on for The Simpsons. Seven wins for Britain’s athletes at the Aviva Grand Prix in Birmingham and the crowd is still going mad at the velodrome as GB’s track cyclists turn on the power.

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