Hurrell hails impact of UK Sport program

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Badminton England Pathway Assistant Coach Kat Hurrell relished the chance to be part of UK Sport’s Women’s Coaching Leadership Programme.

Along with 23 other mentees, Hurrell attended the course overseen by former UK and England hockey coach Karen Brown, with Hurrell being personally mentored by UK Boccia coach Claire Morrison.

The program took place online with the mentees regularly engaged and challenged in discussions about coaching style and leadership.

“I think it’s quite difficult to have 24 female coaches in the same room with everyone’s schedules being so busy,” Hurrell explained.

“But we had a mixture of online group theory workshops and then small groups supported by Karen [Brown], who is our mentor. She led a good discussion and asked good questions to make us explore the theory a little more.

“I think as the course went on, as we got to know each other better, we were quite happy to have some really good conversations and ask each other these questions.

“It wasn’t just about sitting down and learning a theory, we had some great detailed conversations about how it actually applies to our daily lives.

“We covered things like the leadership styles and negotiation skills we need, and we talked a lot about what’s really important to us, values ​​and beliefs. I’ve done that before as a coach, but not necessarily as a leader.

“It just made you think about things that maybe you had never done before.”

This year marked the second edition of the scheme, with two of last year’s cohort, Monica Greenwood (British Cycling) and Jen Leeming (British Diving), taking up mentorship positions alongside Morrison.

The aim of the initiative is to encourage more women to become top-level coaches, with the intention of more than doubling the representation of UK female coaches in the top-level Olympic and Paralympic community by Paris 2024.

Hurrell had the perfect example of Morrison attending the Paralympics as a boccia coach, working with athletes including Tokyo gold medalist David Smith.

She added: “Claire Morrison was brilliant. I couldn’t go see her in person, but hopefully it’s still planned.

“She invited us to some of her MDT (multidisciplinary team) meetings, which I talked to her about.

“Badminton is evolving, we’re building a great team now and it was great to have someone with experience sharing good practice and advice on how it could work because that’s something I don’t haven’t really had much.

“She saved us a lot of time and it was just great to meet people who have been there and done it a lot.”

Hurrell hopes the increased visibility of female coaches will inspire other women in sport in various roles, but she also hopes they can have a positive influence on female players.

It’s something she’s now putting into practice after coaching Lisa Curtin and Estelle Van Leeuwen to silver at the European Junior Championships in Serbia this week.

“A big part of what I try to do with the athletes I work with is do my best to support them on and off the field,” she added.

“I hope they feel they can be independent and try to make a decision because it’s their career and it’s our job to try to facilitate that and not do everything for them.

“We spend a lot of time together, we invest a lot and you want them to do their best.

“Sometimes it actually empowers them to believe that and embrace the opportunities that come their way.”

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