Following the success of two pilot projects of which Tayside & Fife was one, in 2010 sportscotland established six Regional Sporting Partnerships across the country. The regional approach was designed to create stronger connections between local and national partners; including all 32 Local Authorities, Scottish Governing Bodies of sport and other relevant partners.
The formation of this regional sporting infrastructure has provided local and national partners with the opportunity to work together to plan for sport in their area, collaborate on the delivery of national programmes and explore ways of developing their services in an integrated and complementary way.
The Partnership is very much about collaborative working as so much more can be done with a partnership approach than individually, sharing experience and good practice across the region.
A small Management Forum, comprised of representatives from each of the partners, meets regularly to discuss the development of sporting capacity, participation and performance: The Partnership recognises that it is important that there are different voices, connections are made and opportunities planned in a coordinated way and that strong pathways are there so that young people can take their enjoyment of sport as far as they want.
Opportunities in schools, how that connects to extra-curricular activity and from there into the clubs, into area squads and ultimately to national level and the international stage is being looked at.
The Partnership works closely with the Active Schools teams, the clubs, the Sports Governing Bodies, Local Authority sports development teams, universities and colleges and in terms of high-performance, the sportscotland institute of sport.
The Partnership is working primarily with seven sports at the moment, establishing and growing that regional infrastructure. But the success of this approach means that there are other sports who are keen to become involved.
It is not just about sport; the strategy links national ambitions to what's happening on the ground. Strengthening the pathways means that children have as many opportunities to take sport as far as they would like. So, as well as increasing participation and improving performance, it's also supporting other outcomes such as better health and increased self-esteem.
The Partnership has had very good feedback from the Local Authorities in terms of their single outcome agreements and the value that comes from this approach.
At a regional level, the key aims are to establish a network of effective clubs, by increasing or sustaining their playing membership, to recruit, educate and support networks of coaches and officials. The figures speak for themselves; in Tayside and Fife club membership has increased from 3,609 in 2006 to 13,250 in 2011; coaching numbers have risen from 588 to 1,224; and officials from 245 to 550. Workshops and seminars on sports planning, talent identification, leadership and performance planning, among others, support participants.
This is mirrored across Scotland, the Partnership is not working in isolation. The six Regional Development Managers work very closely together, helping partners identify the priorities that are needed to put in place to improve the sporting landscape across the country. There's a lot of knowledge and expertise in place now that helps partners decide how best to support the club infrastructure.
Looking ahead, the aim is to continue building capacity and increasing participation but also to focus on the transition from club sport to institute level with a focus on improving performance outcomes: Strength lies at the school aged, club level and at the institute level; it's the bit in between club and institute where we next want to help make a difference.
Key performance indicators for Tayside and Fife
ESTABLISH A NETWORK OF EFFECTIVE CLUBS
Clubs increase or sustain their playing membership
2005/6: 3609 2010/11: 13250
RECRUIT, EDUCATE AND SUPPORT A NETWORK OF COACHES
Increase in the number of coaches recruited into programmes
2005/6: 588 2010/11: 1224
RECRUIT, EDUCATE AND SUPPORT A NETWORK OF OFFICIALS
Increase the number of officials recruited into programmes
2005/6: 245 2010/11: 550
Tayside & Fife successes:
Eilidh Child and Mark Szaranek, are two names, among many, to watch over the coming months and years. For Euan Lowe, sportscotland's Regional Development Manager in Tayside and Fife, Eilidh and Mark's success is particularly welcome: "It's great to see athletes from the area performing on the international stage."
Commonwealth Games silver medallist Eilidh Child, a 400-metre hurdler and teacher from Perth, is being tipped to reach the Olympic final next year.
Swimmer Mark Szaranek, from Glenrothes, was selected for Team GB at the recent European Youth Olympic Festival in Trabzon, Turkey. Finishing second in the 100m butterfly 'B' final, he set a new Scottish Junior record.
Eilidh and Mark are benefiting from a strategic approach to increasing sports participation and improving performance. The key is collaboration between partners at local, regional and national levels that has developed a strong network of pathways into and through all levels of sport.
If you would like more information on the role of the Partnership, please email SportTayside-Fife@sportscotland.org.uk