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Nino Severino: How Pep and Usain helped me launch a ground-breaking new programme

PUBLISHED: 13:33 19 February 2020 | UPDATED: 13:33 19 February 2020

Nino Severino used a speech from Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola (centre) to launch his ground-breaking Sports Skills 4 Business programme. Picture: PA SPORT

Nino Severino used a speech from Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola (centre) to launch his ground-breaking Sports Skills 4 Business programme. Picture: PA SPORT

PA Archive/PA Images

In this week’s column, Nino Severino talks about the launch of his new Sports Skills 4 Business programme, and how he drew on the words of sporting greats Pep Guardiola and Usain Bolt to kick things off.

Usain Bolt is one of the greatest athletes of all time. Picture: PA SPORTUsain Bolt is one of the greatest athletes of all time. Picture: PA SPORT

This week sees me reflect on an evening last week that represented eight months of very hard work by an unbelievable group of people who surround me and support me in my quest to create a sport to business programme that will change how we as a nation we support our elite athletes.

It was a privilege for me to use an interview with Usain Bolt and Pep Guardiola's speech to the players and staff of Manchester City, after becoming 2018-19 Premier League champions, to highlight team work and how this can achieve great things.

If you want to see this speech, look on YouTube, it is called "We are all champions", it's a very emotional watch, and was perfect for this special evening at Suffolk New College.

For me to achieve bringing 40 elite athletes from nine different sports all under the Sport Skills 4 Business banner, truly took team work. Yes, I lead the concept, but there is no way we could have brought all these athletes and sports together without the SS4B team supporting me.

As with Pep's team, we have some incredibly talented professionals and companies who have been with me right from the beginning. I'll write about this further on, but it's the greats of sport that individuals like myself can turn to in a bid to inspire, motivate and affect the young champions that we are creating here in our region.

In the YouTube film, Pep is outstanding, it's so easy to see why Manchester City had such great success last year. He is a personality who can bring every one in the team together, from the individuals in laundry, who wash and clean the kit, all the way to his assistant coaches, who make the most important and critical decisions with him.

He said: "What I lived, what I felt this season, is something amazing," and, as he talks, he often pulls on the top of his team shirt, almost ripping it off his chest with emotion!

He talks about friendship within the camp, and "being a good human being, good people", and how the whole team at Manchester City FC created something unique, from the locker room, to the pitch. It's his way of saying, I respect you all, and without a team effort being champions is not possible.

The love for him from the team was evident right from the time he walked in the room - he literally goes around and hugs every member of the team and these are not just fleeting hugs, everyone wants to hold the hug for as long as possible, as we do when we greet family or very close friends. This is a representation of the man - to lead, you must be both loved, respected, and for me, Pep has both!

After we showed this incredible footage, everyone in the room, all 40 athletes and SS4B staff applauded an it was quite the moment. It made me look around the room at the incredible individuals that support me, Jason Turner, the director of Eastern region for Barclays Private Bank, Duncan Foster, associate director of Ipswich Town, and Graham Dove, a financial advisor who managers some of the biggest names in football.

And then the day to day staff such as Vicky Solomon, finance director who has been with me for over 15 years, and Wendy Henderson, operational manager, who keeps the foundation ship steady and on course, and Lindsay Farish-Carradice, head of Sport Science. Pep speaks the truth, without great people, and a great team, you cannot achieve great things.

Then it was time to highlight why having outstanding virtues and attributes as an athlete is so important. These underpin the personality and character of the athlete, and it's personality and character that are the foundation of sporting performance.

We used an interview with Bolt at Brunel University, ahead of the 2012 Olympics, in which he represents why character is so important. As he starts to talk, you can see all the athletes taking in every word.

He said: "When I go out on that track I transform, the confidence I have when I go out there is different, no matter how far you think you're ahead of me, I am going to catch you. I'm never scared of anything, or any one, its all about business when I go out there, everything comes together when I'm on the track."

Donovan Blake from ITV attended to film this SS4B event, it will be shown this week, so please look out for it.

I would also like to thank the good and the great of the corporate world for their support - Ashtons Legal, Ensors, Pure Recruitment, Birketts LLP, Prettys, Barclays Bank, Hudson Group, Prominent PR, Cake PD, Stoke By Nayland, Gallagher Insurance and so many more who are joining us on a daily basis. Without their support, we can not support our local champions, so thank you.

If you are an elite athlete who would like to join the SS4B Programme, please contact me at nino@elenabaltachafoundation.org.


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