Following the launch of the IOC Young Leaders Programme, Allison Bourne-Vanneck’s “Ocean Prospects” initiative is aiming to help young athletes in her native US Virgin Islands secure sporting scholarships with American colleges.
How will “Ocean Prospects” work?
“The project is a website and app designed to connect aspiring college athletes in the US Virgin Islands and worldwide with National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) coaches and recruiters in the US. It’s a one-stop shop where athletes can showcase their video reels, sporting highlights and athletic achievements. The idea is that athletes can be ‘an ocean away’ and still show coaches their talent, desire and readiness to play college sports in the US.”
Why choose a sports-focused project?
“As a former college athlete in the US Virgin Islands, I experienced first-hand the challenges of recruitment. Growing up, there were no college coaches travelling to my home island of Saint Thomas to recruit young golfers like myself. College coaches weren’t coming to the Caribbean region to recruit athletes at all. If a coach doesn’t know you or see you play, it’s hard to be recruited. Years later, not much has changed. Geography is still a barrier to higher education for some of the world’s top athletes. For many international athletes, their dreams of college and playing NCAA sports in the US are over by the age of 17. Often, hope is lost much sooner.”
What was your inspiration for “Ocean Prospects”?
“The inspiration comes from watching many hard-working and talented young athletes in the US Virgin Islands struggle to connect with college coaches and earn scholarships. If you are not on the US mainland, it is not easy to make an impression. The athletes are overlooked and lose their chance at higher education. My goal is to level the recruiting playing field and eliminate geography as a hurdle. My mission is to help athletes, not only in my community but also all over the world.”
Does your initiative have any other goals?
“By empowering athletes, another aim of the project is to make a global impact in the Sustainable Development Goals as defined by the United Nations, such as quality education, gender equality and reduced inequality.”
What’s the age range of the athletes who will access the platform?
“We estimate the majority of athletes will range from 13 to 18 years old, as these are important and competitive years for athletes trying to be recruited for college scholarships. However, we anticipate some younger and older athletes will utilise the app as well. Both the platform and prototype app are currently being developed, and the goal is to go live in spring 2020. I’m excited to manage the ‘Ocean Prospects’ platform and look forward to working with a team that’s passionate about helping athletes reach the highest possible level of education and their athletic goals.”
How did you hear about the IOC Young Leaders initiative?
“I learned of the IOC Young Leaders initiative while studying at the International Olympic Academy in Olympia (Greece) this summer. I saw an exciting presentation from Yunus Sports Hub about the programme and the chance to create a sport-focused business to help our countries and communities. Immediately I knew that I wanted to be involved.”
For the fourth year running, the IOC is grateful for the support of TOP Partner Panasonic, whose generosity has made it possible to further develop the IOC Young Leaders Programme.
The new IOC cycle will see over 50 new and ongoing initiatives – supported by a grant from the IOC of up to CHF 5,000 – undertaken worldwide over the next 12 months. The previous 2018-19 cycle delivered 39 life-changing projects globally.
Each new initiative is focused on one of seven core themes – athlete-focused education; the environment; gender equality; healthy living; inclusion (disability) and inclusion (displaced and minority populations); and Olympic values education.