At its last meeting of 2017, the UK Sports Association Trustee Board embraced change and agreed a new focus to be included in its plans for 2018 and beyond.
With UKSA’s international federation, Inas, introducing two new trial classes in 2017 in athletics, swimming and table tennis, the Board agreed that both trial classes II2, for athletes with a more significant intellectual impairment and II3, for athletes with high functioning autism be included in its plans and strategy moving forward.
In practice this will mean class II2, which includes athletes with Down syndrome, UKSA will accept applications to the classification process. Additionally where UKSA considers entries to Inas events, it will, where performances warrant it, consider athletes in this new trial class. For class II3, UKSA will begin exploring, how and by what means, a pathway for this new Inas trial class can be established. UKSA will begin and grow the debate, in partnership with its Home Country stakeholders to explore grass roots to Inas performance opportunities.
UKSA is seeking new partners to support its work as it develops its new strategy for the future. UKSA does not receive any Government or sports funding for its work and will also continue to seek alternative sponsorship and funding partners to underpin its ambitious plans to enhance opportunities for athletes with intellectual disability, Down syndrome and autism to create a sustainable future for performance sport, cultural change and inclusion.
Other significant decisions include the formal AGM approval of Genevieve Gordon, as a new Trustee for a 2 year term, and plans for the expansion of its Board by a further 3 independent trustees. Ms Gordon, a sports lawyer and CEO of Tactic Counsel, brings with her a wealth of experience from the legal, education and commercial sports sector.
In considering the sports programme, the Board agreed a full review of its target sports and Championships for 2018 and beyond, announcements on which will be made throughout the year. The initial focus will be entering strong GB Team representation in a number of sports at the Inas European Summer Games in Paris, France in July 2018 and moving forward plans for the 2019 Inas Global Games. To date, UKSA’s focus has been athletics, table tennis, cricket, tennis, football, cycling, judo and taekwondo. 2017 saw swimming reintroduced as well as the first GB representation at the inaugural Inas Equestrian Championships, where UKSA’s British athlete claimed a bronze medal.
Tracey McCillen, CEO UK Sports Association said “It remains a challenging time for UKSA since the end of UK Sport core funding, but with a dedicated Board and support from volunteers, partners and stakeholders, we will continue to work together to strengthen the performance sport provision for athletes with intellectual impairment, Down syndrome and autism. We want to see athletes represent Great Britain at Inas and other events, but our work also includes advocating the full inclusion of athletes in sport and society, whether as athletes, employees or Board members where they can reap the wide reaching benefits this approach offers.”
Bernard Atha CBE, President and Chairman UK Sports Association said “UKSA has always looked to the future and had big aspirations for athletes but it’s been hindered by the sport funding structure in the UK. That remains a barrier. DCMS and others need to recognise that elite performance is wider than Paralympics alone, invest in organisations that support the athletes and truly deliver the promises from London 2012. The athletes we work with deserve this at the very least.”
The UK Sports Association (UKSA) is the only official Great Britain member of Inas, the International Federation for athletes with intellectual impairment, Down syndrome and autism.
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