The Derbyshire Institute of Sport was founded ten years ago, a legacy of the 2012 home Olympics. To continue the growth of Britain’s success, co-founder Chloe Maudsley could see the evident need for world-class support for upcoming talent, not just for those athletes who had ‘made it’: help when it’s most needed for the young people who were trying to balance progression through high-performance sport with school, college, exams, and all life’s other demands.
The DIS was created to provide holistic support to talented Derbyshire athletes striving to perform at the highest levels in a range of sports. Ten years on, the community interest company is succeeding in its mission to develop, inspire and support local talent with numerous alumni achieving Olympic, Paralympic, Commonwealth and World Championship success and more young people currently training and competing at national and international levels. A hand-picked team of experienced professionals, including a number of former elite athletes, now provide strength and conditioning training, psychology, physiotherapy, nutrition advice and performance mentoring from DIS’s Derby hub to a growing number of members who are striving to be the best they can be as they pursue their individual goals.
With world-class professionals working at every level throughout the DIS, this support is costly – if each service was paid for individually, it would be far out of reach for most families. But affordability shouldn’t be a barrier to success and it’s the aim of the DIS to ensure their Performance Prep Squad, Development Squad and Performance Academy, which bring all these elements together, are accessible to all athletes throughout Derbyshire. This is why the financial help provided by sponsors is so vital. Sponsorship heavily subsidises the programmes, enabling DIS to keep their prices lower for athletes’ families and allowing more young people, from all backgrounds, to access and benefit from the service.
One gold-tier sponsor, leadingIT and telecoms company, Wytech, came on board because managing director Mark Jones immediately identified with the DIS’s mission. He knows from personal experience how much difference this holistic support can make to a young athlete. Mark’s daughter, Hannah, now 27, was a world-class snooker player. She began playing at 7 years of age, joined the world ladies’ tour at 9, and had already won the World U21 Women’s Snooker title six times before retiring from the sport at just 17 years of age. Together, Mark and Hannah have been on a tumultuous journey which resulted in mental health problems for both of them at the time of Hannah’s retirement ten years ago. Both Hannah and Mark felt quite alone and unsupported throughout Hannah’s playing career – Hannah as an athlete and Mark as her parent – and now they feel passionately about helping other athletes and their families to avoid experiencing similar ordeals. It’s clear that, had the support of an organisation like the DIS been available at the time, the story could have been very different.
Not only this, but the philosophy behind Mark’s business aligns, too. Sponsors also benefit from access to the high-performance team at DIS, and, having spent many years heavily involved in world-class sport as well as being a successful businessman, Mark sees evident overlaps in skills and attributes between the two. Staying healthy, building resilience, and developing a high-performance mindset is vital in both the world of sport and in business. As gold-level sponsors, Wytech employees can access monthly ‘lunch and learn’ webinars, discounted gym membership and mental health check-ins with psychologist Dr Phil Clarke of the DIS.
Sponsoring the DIS can benefit your employees and your business, raise your profile, provide networking opportunities with like minded people, help you to foster a ‘high-performance mindset’ within your organisation and, crucially, help to support the next generation of talented athletes in Derbyshire as they strive to become formidable world-class competitors. Now that’s something worth putting your name to. Imagine watching the Olympics and knowing your business had a hand in boosting team GB’s medal haul – what an accolade. Your financial support really can play a part in helping young athletes to achieve their goals.
For more information about sponsorship opportunities, including investment levels suitable for businesses of all sizes, please get in touch.