With less than a year to go until Team GB competes at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, the British Olympic Assiciation (BOA) has been working with GlobalSportsJobs.com to strengthen key areas of their team.
But what is it like to work at the BOA, what are they looking for in new team members and how will roles adapt once they arrive in Rio?
As part of our #MYSPORTSJOB series, we caught up with Paul Ford, Pre-Games Manager at the BOA, who offered his unique insight on life at the national Olympic committee:
Despite failing miserably to be a professional sportsman myself growing up, I knew I always wanted to work in the industry and soon found a love for sports science while at university. I completed a PhD in exercise physiology through the University of Kent in 2007 before going down the lecturing route. It was through this and applied roles within sport science and operations that I found myself joining the BOA in 2011 as part of the build-up to London 2012.
I first joined as a sports engagement manager, which involved looking after a portfolio of sports for the London 2012 Olympic Games. Now, as pre-Games manager, I have responsibility for the identification of a centralised multi-sport training base for Team GB at senior Games. The current focus is on Rio 2016. The prep camp will look after things like final technical training, acclimatisation and the recovery needs of our athletes prior to the Games next summer.
In Brazil next year I will be based in Belo Horizonte as head of pre-Games training and that role will be a management position across our delivery team from technical training, medical services, operations and media.
I’m still involved in sports engagement though and look after five sports on a day-to-day basis; archery, canoeing, gymnastics, rowing and sailing. I like that variety in the role and being pre-Games manager then gives me a chance to work with all sports, both summer and winter, and understand the nuances and technical requirements that go with each area. As a team we’re already planning towards the Pyeongchang 2018 Olympic Winter Games and the Tokyo 2020 summer Games.
For my role, being performance orientated and focused is a vital component. The most important thing for credibility when working with sports in the Olympic environment is understanding what affects performance and what helps on the field of play. This is the most important thing of all and is at the core of everything we do.
Good relationship management is also important, both externally with the sports so they trust you and value your input but also internally here at the BOA when working with colleagues across the different functional areas.
I really enjoy working across multiple sports and I’m in an incredible position here to be able to directly support them at the most important competition they go to – the Olympic Games. I feel very fortunate that we get to be a part of that both day-to-day during the build-up to an Olympics but also on the ground at the Games themselves.
Once you get to Games-time is a very different environment. It’s very fast moving and is all about delivery. The build-up is about planning but when you’re on the ground then it’s about making things happen. For our team, we create a support mechanism for all the sports, balancing those individual requests and managing those in the best interest of overall performance.
If you like international travel then this is a great role to be in too. There’s a need for recces to current and prospective host cities to help with the delivery of services once you’re in the Games environment. I’m actually off to France next week to support British Rowing at the World Championships, which services as their first opportunity to qualify for Rio.
I plan on always being involved in the high performance sports system. It’s a tough industry to get into but, once you’ve got your foot through the door, there’s just no place like it. I feel I would miss the buzz of working directly with sports if I ever stepped away from it.
My advice for anyone wanting to work in this area would be to get practical and applied experience of working directly in sport. It can be tough doing this straight from university or an academic background so I recommend getting out there, volunteering and getting that work experience in engaging with sports. Without that fundamental experience it’s very difficult to stand out from the crowd.
Perhaps not surprisingly I’m a bit of a sports/gym nut. I love being very physically active but also spending time with my family. With plenty of time away from home it’s great to find that balance and spend as much time back at home as I can.