UK Sport has today announced a new leadership programme as part of a plan to more than double the representation of female coaches in the Olympic and Paralympic high-performance community by Paris 2024.
Milnes is the Lead Paratriathlon Coach at British Triathlon's Loughborough Triathlon Performance Centre where she works with some of the nation's top paratriathletes. Appointed to her role in 2017, Milnes has been included on the programme which aims to increase female representation in elite coaching.
The new leadership programme will involve six of the best female coaches in the UK providing key support and development opportunities for the next aspiring generation of elite coaches.
Paula Dunn (para athletics), Kate Howey (judo), Mel Marshall (swimming), Bex Milnes (paratriathlon) and Tracy Whittaker-Smith (trampolining) will, over six months, provide a unique opportunity for other female coaches to learn from them, observe them in their environment and develop understanding of high-performance coaching, while Karen Brown, who spent over 15 years as a coach for Great Britain Hockey and England Hockey, will act as a mentor throughout the programme.
UK Sport is working with Performance Directors, Coach Developers and Talent Pathway Managers within the high-performance community, as well as UK Coaching, to nominate female coaches who the group collectively agree have potential to coach at the Olympic and Paralympic Games at Paris 2024 and beyond. The nomination process will close shortly and coaches will be finalised by the end of the year.
The leadership programme forms part of UK Sport’s long-term plan to address the current under-representation of female coaches at all levels of the talent pathway within the high-performance community. Significantly increasing the number of female coaches available for Paris 2024 is the first target of this long-term plan.
LTPC Lead Paratriathlon Coach at British Triathlon, Bex Milnes, said: “I’m really pleased to be part of the leadership programme and supporting coaches on their career journey. The number of women coaching at an Olympics and Paralympics is incredibly low and programmes like this highlight the importance of the presence of women at all levels of the performance environment. I look forward to seeing the coaches on the programme develop and become our leaders of the future.”
CEO at UK Sport, Sally Munday, said: “UK Sport is determined to see greater diversity across the high-performance community and this programme will focus on seeing more women at the top end of high performance. Coaches, alongside athletes, are at the heart of our high-performance community and we firmly believe that a more diverse cohort of highly skilled coaches will help more of our Olympic and Paralympic athletes realise their potential.
“There are currently far too few female coaches operating at the highest level of performance and we are committed to addressing this reality and, working with our stakeholders, driving the change we want to see.”
The programme arises from UK Sport’s People Development Team, working in partnership with sports and stakeholders to address diversity and inclusion ambitions, removing barriers and introducing bespoke programmes with gender the first characteristic and other initiatives to follow.
At present, approximately only 10% of coaching positions within the high-performance community in the UK are held by women. The first target of UK Sport’s long-term plan is to ensure that by the Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2024, the number of female coaches available to Team GB and ParalympicsGB has more than doubled to 25%.
Working with key stakeholders, UK Sport has a responsibility to play a part in closing gender gaps by focusing on diversifying the high-performance coaching community and increasing opportunities for female coaches to take up senior and leadership roles.