Jo Yapp, Women's Rugby Head Coach

Two University sports coaches selected for the UK Sport Aspire Coaching Programme

The Director of Badminton, Helen Ward and the Women’s Rugby Coach Jo Yapp are among 22 coaches chosen by Sports Coach UK as part of the nationwide Aspire 2015/2016.  They will have a significant impact in the talent pathways in their sports.

The Aspire programme is about developing coaching expertise, expanding coaches’ insight, broadening their understanding and influencing their coaching practice to further support the needs of their athletes/teams.

Dr Tony Byrne, CEO Sports Coach UK, said: “The success of Aspire reinforces our desire to invest in coaches working in the talent development stage of the athlete performance pathway. We know excellent coaching is important at every stage in an athlete’s career. It’s especially important for those working with talented young athletes to be able to engage, nurture, motivate and develop them. This ensures the athletes remain in sport and maximise their potential.” 

The scheme, which is funded by UK Sport, aims to develop talented coaches who are playing a role in the development of future senior international athletes through the work they are doing within the stages of the talent pathway. The Aspire programme will involve a number of different workshops over a 20 month period looking at various aspects of the coaching role.  This will include how coaches deliver training and how they profile athletes.

Graham Taylor, Head of Coaching, UK Sport, said:  “The Aspire programme is important to our plans for building a world-class workforce to support our ambitious targets in Rio and beyond. We are working to build a stronger, more sustainable sporting system and these coaches are key to this aspiration.”

Helen, who is also the U15 National Age Group coach for Badminton England, said: “I am delighted to have been selected for the Aspire programme and look forward to working closely and gaining new ideas from other talented coaches across the UK to help develop my own practice. I’m also looking forward to bringing back new ideas to implement within the programmes I run here at the University to benefit the students development and enhance the sporting experience at Exeter.’

Overseen by Helen, the student Badminton Club at Exeter has over 200 members accessing up to 8 hours of badminton a week and one-off events such as the annual club championships and alumni masters tournament. In addition the performance squad regularly train with Helen on court and access the Athlete Development Centre to assist in their development and prepare for BUCS competition. The year the teams have had a great start to the season with the Men’s 1st team undefeated in all except 1 fixture, the Women’s first sitting 3rd in the Premier South table and the Men’s and Women’s 2nd teams remaining unbeaten. 

Jo Yapp has worked as a regional head coach and talent transfer assistant coach for the Rugby Football Union Women and as well as being the University of Exeter head coach she is also England Women’s U20’s coach. Jo is excited about developing as a coach and identifying and nurturing young rugby talent. She said: “Working alongside others on development days, networking and sharing ideas with different sports is a fantastic and unique opportunity. I will develop my skills in profiling of players, developing programmes, creating the best learning environments all within elite sport.”

The University of Exeter Women’s Rugby club is part of the highly regarded High Performance Programme at the University and were British Universities and Colleges Sport (BUCS) champions in 2013, BUCS 7’s winners in 2012 and have a recent history of developing players who achieve international honours.

Date: 18 November 2014