Interaction and collaboration were the key themes as Sport NI hosted its annual Club and Workforce Engagement event this week.
Connected ’18 was billed as Sport NI’s first ‘un-conference’ with a focus on interactive discussions over traditional conference speeches. The event took place at the Hilton Templepatrick during 2018 European Week of Sport, and brought together coaches, officials and development officers from governing bodies of sport, local authorities and other sports organisations.
Eschewing the conventional registration, the event kicked off with attendees being tasked with identifying their own delegate packs – relying on their own communication skills and the information on individual ‘luggage tags’ attached to each pack. Right from the off, conversation was rife across different sports, job roles and organisations.
Attendees were then treated to a line-up of themed discussions and open source sessions led by specially invited experts and practitioners. Jim Eastwood, Global Sales Director of Travel Counsellors (and previously a star on TV’s The Apprentice) engaged with attendees on the theme of “Selling What You Do” and “Lightning Talk” – focusing on the sporting workforce could build self-confidence and communicate effectively with stakeholders to understand and successfully address needs.
Jane Booth, consultant with Opus29 and a former Head of Coaching Systems at the Professional Golfer’s Association, took delegates through a session on “Changing the Picture”. Jane challenged and supported the audience through the process of altering their perspective through which they view their work, considering it through the eyes of customers and partners as a way of promoting continuous improvement.
Finally, Kurt Lindley, Managing Director of Be More Learning and Development (and former People Development Manager at British Shooting) delivered an interactive session on “Parallel Intentions”, providing attendees with a fascinating insight into the impact the shared economy is having globally on different sectors including sports development. The session gave delegates an opportunity to share and discuss how sharing resources (from time and expertise to capital and spaces) could open up new opportunities and efficiencies for the sports sector.
The one concession to the traditional conference format came in the form of a remarkable keynote presentation from Hannah Shields, the dentist and adventurer who became the first woman from Ireland to reach the summit of Mount Everest. Hannah has (to date) made two excursions up the famous mountain, as well as embarking on a ski race to the North Pole. She enraptured the audience with her stories of battling altitude, cracked ribs, avalanches and all-too-close encounters with polar bars. At one stage, she admitted “Why do I do it? Because I love it”. Closing her address, Hannah paid tribute to the all-important role that coaches have played in achieving her ambitions (both past and future) and encouraged delegates to seize the opportunities they were presented with in their own lives and careers.
Following Hannah’s keynote, Connected ’18 closed as it had started, with attendees on their feet, engaging with each other as they identified and discussed their main learnings and insights from the day’s event.