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Both the apprentice prospectus and the professional prospectus are both now available for download following a significant amount of work from the professionals, the Club Chairmen, and the numerous committees involved in the IiP initiative.
Over 40 volunteers have been involved in producing the programme, which is now run by the Operational Continuous Improvement Panel (OCIP). Sport Structures have provided a vital partnership throughout the process and continue to work closely on a day to day basis.
The programme has been advertised and a number of candidates have been interviewed. Wellington College have agreed to take one of the first candidates, which is a very exciting development.
The professionals have started the process of accreditation based on their training and achievements to date.
The T&RA are the major stakeholders, supported by the IRTPA. There has been a remarkable fund raising effort by the Funding Panel (led by Carl Snitcher), establishing the Real Champions Club, persuading other stakeholders (the Dedanists' Foundation, the Dedanists' Society and the LTRA) to contribute, as well as many clubs via a court levy contribution. A remarkable effort to focus so many on a common cause.
Special thanks to the programme facilitator, John Whiting, for his extraordinarily patient and productive effort.
In simple terms, IiP is intended to recruit additional trainee professionals into to the game, and to upskill existing professionals by offering access to court-related skills together with education in business skills. Participants acquire accredited status by assessment, leading to remuneration that is linked to achievement. Our purpose is to enhance professionalism in the game - our tag line is â€˜Attract, Recruit, Train and Retainâ€™.
What will be delivered
The programme offers new trainees and existing young professionals a highly professional educational environment in order to develop a meaningful career in Real Tennis. In tandem with court training and court-related skills, the programme offers learning and training in the business skills relevant to becoming an accredited Real Tennis professional or to manage a sports facility.
Who we want to attract
Emphasising the inclusive objectives of IiP, we wish to encourage all new trainees to join the programme as Apprentices. Access to the programme can be made through a number of entry paths depending on the age and training already undertaken by the individual trainee.
We also welcome existing trainee professionals to join the programme to in-fill any skills they require to achieve accreditation.
Who will be running the programme
From the outset, operation of the programme will be delivered through the partnership of Sports Structures and the T&RA, supervised by a panel selected from the Tennis community, which will be coordinated by the T&RA Chairman.
The headline tasks are identified with the following individuals, supported by a great number of professionals and other Club representatives too numerous to list here:
Training, Assessment & Accreditation
- Ross Szabo (Sports Structures)
- Chris Bray
- James Coley
- Chris Davies (T&RA)
Recruitment, Selection & Retention
- Steve Brewerton
- Josh Smith
Host Club Liaison
- David Watson
- Simon Mansfield
- Rob Fahey
- Josh Farrall
- Paul Weaver
- Carl Snitcher
- Johnny Saunders
- John McVittie
What has been organised so far
Most of the effort has been in the design and production of the programme, including a detailed training manual, careful selection of the appropriate business skills training course(s), designing a selection camp for new recruits, a logbook for the trainees, the IiP website, and advertising material for the official launch and recruitment drive.
Conversations are continuing with possible host Clubs where training will be provided, to ensure their needs are met according to the individual Club environment, objectives and financial structure. We expect there will be at least four Clubs participating in the initiative by May 2021.
When does the Programme start
The main thrust is now on implementation and delivery of the programme. Recruitment ran through the last months of 2020, with the first candidate starting in 2021, as soon as the current lockdown eases.
Where the money is coming from
The IiP programme will be delivered at a cost to the Tennis Community of approximately Â£100,000 p.a. net of Government funding support, which currently includes a sign-on bonus which is effective for the rest of this year. The T&RA has agreed to underwrite 75% of the salaries of the trainees and will be bearing circa 50% of the total costs. The Real Champions Club is also a major sponsor. The costs are also supported by The Dedanistsâ€™ Foundation and The Dedanistsâ€™ Society, by the Overseas Associations and a voluntary court levy.
As far as is possible, our aim is to make the IiP programme cost-neutral to the participating Clubs. This is no mean feat - there is no such thing as â€˜over-fundingâ€™!
As trainees are recruited and start their career path in Real Tennis, and existing young professionals join the programme at the appropriate point relative to their own career, their progress will be continually assessed and reported by Sports Structures and the training professionals at the Host Clubs.
The trainees will be employed by the T&RA to ensure consistent delivery and reward throughout their training, which will continue through progressive levels of professional attainment. Their achievement will be recognised at an annual awards ceremony attended by our Royal Patron.
How to find out more about the Programme
The official IiP materials and literature is now available and the new IiP website has been launched, to complement the process.