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Scheme that supports talented athletes gets national mark of approval

Updated: 25.04.23

Scheme that supports talented athletes gets national mark of approval

A scheme that supports Sheffield College athletes to achieve their potential in education and sport has received a national mark of approval.

The College runs a sport scholarship programme that helps talented athletes to focus on their studies whilst also continuing to train and compete at the highest level.

Now the programme has received recognition having recently been accredited to Sport England’s Talented Athlete Scholarship Scheme (TASS). 

The TASS accreditation recognises an education institution’s commitment to supporting students who are following a dual career route.

Tom Kotylo, Academy Director, Fitness and Life Sciences, The Sheffield College, said: “Our sport scholarship programme enables talented student athletes to go further in their studies as well their chosen sport. 

He added: We are delighted to receive this national accreditation which recognises our commitment to putting students first.”

Currently, there are a number of students across the College competing at a high level in athletics, basketball, boxing, football, kickboxing, ski racing and swimming.  Many are competing regionally, nationally or internationally alongside attending the College and completing their studies and educational qualifications.

As part of the sports scholarship programme, student athletes benefit from a flexible timetable that accommodates their training and competition commitments as well as mentoring, physiotherapy and sports kit.

The academic flexibility policies mean students can access online notes or resources, arrange catch-up sessions with teaching staff and reschedule deadlines in exceptional circumstances.

Kickboxer Frankie Ashton – case study

International kickboxer Frankie Ashton, 19, is studying for a Foundation Degree in Physical Education and School Sport and trains around 12 to 16 hours a week. Amongst Frankie’s long list of sporting achievements, some of the strongest results include winning gold at the Best fighter WAKO World Cup.

Frankie fought at the WAKO Dutch Open European Cup in March 2023 winning gold and represented Team GB at the WAKO Senior European Championships in Turkey in 2022. Frankie is also proud of winning her first WAKO British Senior title at the age of 16; a title that she continues to hold to this day.

Frankie’s long term ambition is to become an Olympian. She explained: “I chose the College as I wanted to study sport. It’s where my ambitions lie. I find my course difficult at times but by persevering and pushing through my work I always come out with a happy outcome. I enjoy the course as it’s very practical, which I love.

“I have enjoyed being given the opportunity to work with children in sport and to pass on knowledge and I hope to motivate and encourage more younger people to get into sport.”

Frankie added: “The sports scholarship has helped me massively. It provides flexibility with my timetable, which allows me to meet all my training requirements and attend all my tournaments nationally and internationally.

“It has helped to reduce stress by from moving deadlines so they are not around my fights. I am able to 100% focus on my fights and still have time to get my assignments done to the best of my ability.

“My advice to other young people out there who study but do a sport at a high level is don’t give up! Everything comes together in the end. If you continue to push and work through the hard times, you will become aware of your ability. When you do, you’ll reach the top!”

Swimmer Sienna Robinson - case study

Talented swimmer Sienna Robinson has world class podium potential. Sienna competed in the British Championships at Ponds Forge in April 2023.  These are a potential qualifying event for the World Championship squad in Japan in July and also the European and World Junior Championships later this year.

During the event, Sienna won a silver medal in the 50 metres, and finished 4th in the 200 metres and 5th in the 100 metres.  She achieved the consideration times for the World and European Junior Championships. Those squads are due to be announced at the end of April 2023.

The 18-year-old, who receives a bursary from British Swimming, is among a group of elite student athletes benefiting from the sports scholarship scheme at the College.

Sienna is studying a Sports Coaching and Development Level 3 Diploma at Hillsborough Campus whilst juggling 22 hours swim training a week and competitions. She was selected for the European Junior Swimming Championships in Bucharest and the FINA Swimming World Cup in Berlin last year.

Sienna said: “My goal is to be the best I can in my sport and make the Olympics. I am really enjoying focussing on my swimming but it is also important that I can continue my studies and keep my options open.”

Sienna originally started A Levels at a school sixth form but left after the first year as she found it too difficult to balance her studies with training and competing.

She explained: “I knew that I had an interest in sport and longer term wanted to study at university whilst also having the flexibility to pursue my swimming ambitions. I saw a social media post about the College’s sports courses and scholarship programme and decided to apply. The programme has been really helpful as it provides me with some flexibility and adjustments to accommodate my swimming commitments.”

Sienna continued: “It means that if I am away competing, my tutors will email me the lecture slides and answer any queries I have so that I can keep up with my studies if I can’t attend my classes.

“For example, I attended a training camp in Lanzarote and competed in Sweden in the Grand Prix and the College fully accommodated this. The staff are very helpful and supportive. They already have some experience of coaching and know how to support elite athletes.”

The diploma course that Sienna is studying covers anatomy, physiology, fitness testing, sports coaching and leadership. Students can progress to a range of sports-based degrees.

Sienna is planning to continue her sports studies at Loughborough University which is also home to one of the national centres for swimming, or Sheffield Hallam University, which has links to the City of Sheffield Swim Squad. She will be able to gain a degree whilst allowances are made for her to continue training and competing.

The College joins a network of education institutions that already partner with TASS, delivering support services to more than 600 student athletes each year.

Guy Taylor, TASS National Director, said: “We’re delighted to be awarding TASS Dual Career Accreditation to colleges and universities across England. Dual career support is at the forefront of what TASS does and that’s why the Accreditation Scheme is so important for us in recognising those institutions who place precedence on their athletes’ education too.

“We hope that the academic flexibility policies put into place for the accreditation will begin to develop an effective and lasting dual career structure within each institution. Congratulations to the successful institutions and we look forward to working alongside many more outstanding colleges and universities in the near future.”

Find out more about the sport scholarship programme on our website.

Pictured: International kickboxer Frankie Ashton is studying a Foundation Degree in Physical Education and School Sport at The Sheffield College.

Photo credit: Joe Horner.

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