Athletes help optimise a career programme for their peers
The word needs to be spread more about the three letters “ACP”. This was one of the main conclusions of the 5th IOC Athlete Career Programme (ACP) Forum held last week in Lausanne. The event brought together athletes and representatives of National Olympic Committees (NOCs), Adecco and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) for two days in order to improve the implementation of the programme across the globe. Launched in 2005, the ACP aims to support elite athletes to successfully manage training, competition as well as the challenges and opportunities of day-to-day life. It focuses on the three fields: Education, Life Skills and Employment.
27 NOCs and 6,800 athletes on board
Twenty-seven NOCs in all continents have already been actively cooperating with Adecco to implement the ACP in their countries. And with more than 6,800 athletes having benefitted from the service already, the ACP is becoming a success story. However, reaching out to as many athletes and potential employers as possible will remain a true communications exercise for all stakeholders involved.
“Be in a position to support myself”
Geri Buckley, a pistol shooter for Team Great Britain, British record holder and PhD student in her spare time, is one of those athletes who have already succeeded in combining their sporting career with their professional development. At the IOC Forum she gave insights into how she manages to balance training and education both at a high level. Combining her sport, studies, friends, relationships and family is a masterstroke; and a customised scholarship programme proved to be the key for her success in all those fields. She explained: “Even if I make the Olympic Games in 2012 there may still not be the funding and I must be in a position to support myself.”
Meet athletes’ expectations
Sergei Aschwanden, bronze medallist in judo at the Olympic Games in Beijing 2008 and currently a student of sports sciences and business in Switzerland, gave his view of how the ACP could best meet athletes’ expectations. “Adecco, the sports organisations and the coaches need to work closely together to motivate the athletes early on to get involved in the ACP. It is about making them aware that there is a life beyond their sporting career and that there is the ACP to assist them in shaping their futures. In a positive environment, the athletes will learn how to deal with social pressures, how to manage their time and how to plan ahead. And this is exactly what many of them are expecting from such a tailored programme.”
Create win-win situation for athletes and employers
During an internship at the IOC from July to September this year, Sergei Aschwanden took an active role in fine-tuning the ACP. He analysed the ACP information available on www.olympic.org and helped to better adjust it to the athletes’ needs. His presence at the IOC proved to be a win-win situation for both sides: whilst he underwent a huge learning curve in what it takes to organise sport at an international level and to find compromises among the many stakeholders, the IOC benefitted from his first-hand experience in many athlete-related topics. Sergei Aschwanden also visited the first-ever Youth Olympic Games in Singapore to evaluate what improvements could be undertaken in the Youth Olympic Village, the Culture and Education Programme and in the competition formats to better meet the athletes’ needs. Sergei is convinced that it can be attractive for employers to integrate athletes into their structures. ”Of course you can never generalise, but many elite athletes have acquired skills during their sporting career that can bring added value to any future employer,” he said, and explained: “Managing pressure, learning to handle defeats and a ‘never give up attitude’ are characteristics that are helpful not only on the sporting field, but also in any other profession.”