Tees Valley Community Foundation (TVCF) and Tees Valley Sport have created the Athlete Journey Ambassador Programme, which will provide a window into the world of young athletes from training and competing to winning and losing - and everything in between.
Tees Valley Community Foundation provides funding to Tees Valley Sport for its Future Champions programme, which provides intensive support for young athletes and their coaches, including bespoke training programmes, sports science workshops, and injury prevention and media training.
The new Athlete Journey Ambassador Programme will help young athletes to harness the power of digital marketing and social media to develop and use key professional skills such as photography, blogging and vlogging to share their journey and inspire others.
Hayley Wilson, social impact officer at Tees Valley Community Foundation, said: “The whole idea of this programme is to gather these amazing up and coming athletes and their stories together where we can help them to develop their skills so they can share their stories more effectively to reach more people with their inspiring efforts.
“TVCF is passionate about supporting local people to achieve their potential in their chosen field,” she said. “We all know downsides to social media – but used safely and positively it can be a powerful storytelling tool that others can learn from and be inspired by. By providing each athlete with the platforms, the tools, and the training and support to promote their journeys, we know they will be inspiring the next generation of future champions.”
The first five athletes to be taking part in the programme are Saltburn Kayaker Eve Ovington, who is going from strength to strength in her slalom career and now competes in the senior women’s categories. Middlesbrough Judo Player, Joseph McNeill, who has been selected for the Judo Commonwealth Games this September ranking #1 for England.
And also signed up as ambassadors are three further Middlesbrough Judo Players and siblings; Rachel has been on a rapid and steep trajectory to senior level competition and is ranked 7th in the senior women under 52kg category. Joe is carving out a strong path now, progressing well up the weight categories, recently competing in his first senior bouts and gaining a bronze medal. Eve, who recently recovered from a serious shoulder injury, is back training and competing again.
The ambassadors have taken part in a workshop to create their own unique hashtag #futurechampsrepresent and have been given journals, sports kits, selfie sticks and tripod equipment so they can use their smart phones to create social content.
Eve said: “I’m excited to be involved in the ambassador programme as it will give me the opportunity to showcase my sport and what I can do. It will also be a great platform to share with my sponsors and give them recognition of their support.”
“Hopefully some of what I share will help encourage other girls to take part in the sport.”
Nigel Hornsby, sports development officer at Tees Valley Sport, said: “Getting a real glimpse into the life of an athlete will show people what it’s like to commit at this level with wins, losses, injuries, training, journeys, sacrifices, diet and all the stuff that goes on.
“Our ambassadors will develop great skills, enhance their profile and expand their own networks, which all goes towards creating real momentum to help celebrate the success of young athletes in the Tees Valley.
“This programme will also help the young athletes to promote and present themselves better, which will stand them in good stead for attracting sponsorship in future years.”
Future Champions is just one of many programmes funded by Tees Valley Community Foundation, which has distributed more than £35m to more than one million beneficiaries in the last 30 years.