Alison Oliver: An exciting new challenge ahead

by Alison Oliver, Youth Sport Trust's Chief Executive

I feel extremely honoured to have been appointed as the Interim Chief Executive of the Youth Sport Trust.

To be leading such a hugely talented team is an immense privilege but also a major responsibility – and one which I assure you I do not take on lightly!

The fantastic work that the charity does in terms of changing young people’s lives through sport is something I have always felt very passionate about and professionally am committed to.

In fact, it is very much part of my DNA.

I joined the Youth Sport Trust back in 2004 as Implementation Director - where I worked to establish the network of School Sport Partnerships.

In the ten years between now and then, I have held various leadership positions at the organisation but have never failed to be inspired every single day by the impact that the Youth Sport Trust and our programmes have on young people.

To now be Interim Chief Executive feels very special; although a million miles from where I first started off my career in PE and sport some years ago!

It was as a lecturer at the South East Essex VI College where my journey really began before a series of roles in the sector that saw me work as the Head of PE at Millfield School, Director of Netball at the University of Bath, where I established the Team Bath franchise of the Netball Super League, and then the Deputy Director of Sport there.

But it is at the Youth Sport Trust where I feel I have been able to make the biggest impact in terms of using sport as a tool to improve the lives of young people – and I feel certain that my most exciting opportunities at the Trust are yet to come!

I am particularly excited to be taking up this new position at this time given that 2015 is set to be a huge year for the Youth Sport Trust.

Firstly, we will be celebrating our 20th anniversary.

This gives us a fantastic opportunity not only to look back on the numerous successes we have achieved over the past two decades but also to look ahead to the next 20 years of what the future holds for the PE and school sport sector and for the Youth Sport Trust.

On a strategic level, I will be working closely with our Chair, Baroness Sue Campbell and with our Senior Leadership Team to ensure we continue to move forward, grow and build on our status as the one of the landscape leaders for the sector.

It is hugely important that we stay true our values and to the vision our founder and President Sir John Beckwith set out 20 years ago to use PE and school sport to enhance the lives of young people.

But at the same time, we must not be afraid to use the year of 20th anniversary as a platform to sharpen our messaging and raise our profile in an increasingly fast-moving world and ever changing PE and school sport landscape.

We must be responsive to the emerging social issues facing young people in terms of their physical and emotional wellbeing, educational achievement and employability. I feel particularly strongly about the unique role physical education and sport can play in the development of essential lifeskills and will be championing the outcomes of our work in terms of young people’s creativity, aspirations, resilience and empathy. These qualities are so important in equipping young people for the challenges of modern life: they underpin confidence, ability to work with others and tenacity and are essential to a rounded education. I am excited about the contribution the Youth Sport Trust will be making to this agenda in the coming year.

Finally, of course, 2015 also brings a General Election. The Youth Sport Trust enjoys strong relationships with all political parties, and we will be calling strongly for the new Government to maximise the contribution PE, physical activity and sport makes to our schools and the outcomes delivered to young people through them. I look forward to championing this message as we launch our Manifesto in January.

So there are exciting times ahead, and lots of work to be done but I could not be more committed to building on the work of our outgoing Chief Executive John Steele and leading the Youth Sport Trust into its next phase.

Thank you for your ongoing support of the Youth Sport Trust mission and roll on 2015!