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Nino Severino: How Suffolk businesses are helping athletes prepare for life after sport

PUBLISHED: 10:00 22 January 2020 | UPDATED: 10:00 22 January 2020

Ipswich tennis prodigy Justice Hall is working with the Sports Skills 4 Business programme. Picture: PAVEL KRICKA

Ipswich tennis prodigy Justice Hall is working with the Sports Skills 4 Business programme. Picture: PAVEL KRICKA

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In his latest column, Nino Severino discusses his unique Sport Skills 4 Business programme, and how it's bringing Suffolk athletes and business leaders together.

Nino Severino, left, with Jennifer Leeder of Birketts LLP - one of the companies involved with Sports Skills 4 Business. Picture: NINO SEVERINONino Severino, left, with Jennifer Leeder of Birketts LLP - one of the companies involved with Sports Skills 4 Business. Picture: NINO SEVERINO

Since writing my column last week, so much has happened in terms of bringing the two worlds of sport and business closer together under our unique Sport Skills 4 Business Programme.

All at the foundation have worked so hard to ensure that this programme can truly change the lives of the athletes who we are supporting and guiding, and the response in the last seven days is providing me with the confidence that I need to head up this initiative and continue to work hard to make it a national project.

The fact is that most sportsmen and women will never earn an income from their sport, even if they become world or Olympic champions, there simply is no money in many sports.

Even in the sports that are lucrative, the percentages of athletes who attain a level which provides them with large income streams is very, very low. For me, as they say, SS4B was a no brainer! If we could somehow bring the two worlds closer together, we could both benefit massively, and this is exactly what is happening.

What I have realised is that there is without a doubt a revolution taking place currently. The corporate world sees sport as an environment which holds the methods and principles of people development which can help the individuals in their businesses adapt, which in turn will have a very positive affect on performance and the quality of product, service or delivery offered, and ultimately, the final outcome - profit.

What I have also found out, during the many meetings I have had around Ipswich with some major corporate companies, is that businesses leaders are not only focused on profit but on the members of their teams becoming more emotionally and mentally robust, creating an environment and culture that promotes camaraderie and a strong will to work together, and the ability to find solutions to challenges - this mirrors exactly what an athlete experiences on a day-to-day basis.

Another area of corporate life that has struck me is the fact that most genuinely want to give back - the official term is Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) - and this is not a token gesture, the business leaders I have been talking to want to roll up their sleeves and join me to make a difference to junior and senior athletes alike and ensure that there is a bright and rewarding future after sporting life has ended.

My challenge was to develop a programme that delivered a maximum learning experience and affect for the athlete, with minimum inconvenience for the businesses who which to be involved in this unique programme.

I want the SS4B programme experience for all involved to be positive and rewarding, athletes will learn and develop with their business mentors, individuals in the business world will gain as well, through "giving back" and gaining a feeling of satisfaction knowing they are affecting the lives of young and senior athletes alike who are experiencing personal development.

International karate talent Ruby Hunt will be helped by the Sports Skills 4 Business programme. Picture: NINO SEVERINOInternational karate talent Ruby Hunt will be helped by the Sports Skills 4 Business programme. Picture: NINO SEVERINO

I have created a unique method of learning that removes any limiting factors that may prevent businesses from being involved. I know that professionals in the work place are very busy people, and time is a very valuable commodity - more often than not, it's not that the intent and desire to help is not there, it's simply because it's just too difficult to shape the work place pressures around the responsibility of taking time out to give back.

The unique structure of our SS4B programme, enables all in the sporting and business worlds to benefit and develop in so many exciting ways, around a system that enables us all to work together.

We already have many companies on board and committed to ensuring we give all the athletes on the programme an unbelievably valuable experience, companies such as Cake the People Developers, Functional Training Company, Hudson Group, Prominent PR, and regional companies such as Prettys Solicitors, Ashton Legal Solicitors, and even global corporates, like Gallagher Insurance and Adecco Group.

This is only the tip of the iceberg, but as all things, it takes one to start the movement, and the company that stepped forward nearly a year ago to support me in this incredible journey was Birketts LLP.

With the backing and support of entities such as Suffolk New College, sports clubs and associations, we now have our first cohort of 25 athletes in the SS4B programme, many of them Great Britain internationals, and they will be supported and educated throughout many of the corporate boardrooms across Ipswich, the first delivery in February will be at Suffolk New College.

I am sure in the years ahead, many of our athletes will be running business themselves, or become CEO's of companies, and will offer the next generation of athletes coming through the support they are now receiving themselves!

If you would like to find out more about the SS4B Programme, please contact me on nino@elenabaltachafoundation.org.

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