Innovative sports programmes kick off for talented Perse athletes
8 Feb 2021
Two new initiatives have been launched to give a boost to budding sports stars at The Perse.
The Perse Talented Athlete Programme and Junior Academy have been set up by Ravi Mahendra, Assistant Director of Sport (Performance), to provide practical help and advice to the school’s most promising sports students.
Open to pupils from Year 10 to Upper Sixth who are already involved in sporting governing bodies’ performance pathways, the Talented Athlete scheme picks up where the former Perse Elite Sports Programme left off.
Among the 23 students taking part in the programme are:
- Lotti Knights (Upper Sixth), who will represent Great Britain in sprint triathlon and sprint duathlon at their respective world championships later this year.
- Joey Taylor (Year 11), who has been selected for the Royal Yachting Association’s Youth Performance Sailing Squad.
- Bella Howarth (Year 11), who made her senior debut for Essex women’s cricket team last August and has secured a place in Vitality Netball Superleague side London Pulse’s performance pathway hub.
- Sebastian Vandermeer (Lower Sixth), who won the Outstanding Performer accolade at the 2020 Roy Burrell Awards for his swimming achievements, having won medals at the British, English, Dutch and Thai national championships.
Mr Mahendra said the programme recognises each athlete is different and aims to provide them with support and development to help them manage their busy academic schedules alongside training and performing at the highest level.
The initiative will target key areas including understanding and supporting performance, strength and conditioning, mindset and goal setting, managing and monitoring progress, guidance, exploring sporting curiosity and scholarship.
Meanwhile, the Junior Academy is open to pupils in Years 8 and 9 who wish to excel in sport and understand what is required to make the next step. Forty-seven pupils have been selected for the initial cohort, having shown promise in the three criteria for development within the programme – fundamental movement skills, leadership and responsibility, and sporting curiosity.
On the concept of sporting curiosity, Mr Mahendra explained: “In practice, it’s about being confident to have a growth mindset in the way they train and perform, being different and not being afraid to fail. We also want them to build their knowledge and understanding of sport through books, podcasts and documentaries and have an interest in the history of sport and current sporting affairs.”
With Covid-19 restrictions having had a major impact on school sport, Mr Mahendra said both programmes had begun virtually to help give Perse athletes a focus during the latest lockdown.
He said: “We have set tasks for the pupils, such as self-reflection questionnaires and evaluations, so we can set targets and goals for when we return to school.
“There are skill acquisition tasks to encourage the pupils to remain competitive and be curious towards learning new skills, such as juggling, and we are encouraging them to build good routines during lockdown in order to benefit their wellbeing. Mr Marlow our strength and conditioning coach, has also put together strength and conditioning programmes for the pupils to complete at home with limited facilities.
“Overall, I have been really pleased with the enthusiasm from pupils regarding both programmes.”
Talented Athlete Programme students include Maddy Brooking (Lower Sixth, netball); Oliver Brunt (Lower Sixth, golf); May Busher (Year 10, cricket/hockey); Megan Carmichael (Upper Sixth, tennis); Xanthe Farman (Year 10, hockey); Nikhil Gorantla (Upper Sixth, cricket); Bella Howarth (Year 11, cricket/netball); Lotti Knights (Upper Sixth, triathlon); Alice MacDowell (Lower Sixth, netball); Alex Maynard (Lower Sixth, cricket); Will McKernan (Year 11, golf); Jack Moffat (Year 10, hockey); Alex Pitchford (Lower Sixth, hockey); Beatrice Rogers (Year 10, football); Isaac Rothwell (Year 11, athletics); Charlotte Rye (Year 10, hockey); Holly Smith (Year 10, hockey); Joey Taylor (Year 11, sailing); Charlie Underwood (Lower Sixth, rugby); Sebastian Vandermeer (Lower Sixth, swimming); Weiqi Ye (Year 11, tennis); Gabriella Zailer-Fletcher (Year 10, tennis); Yujian Zou (Year 11, rugby).