ISAF Training & Development Manager talks about his role

In July 2009, Dan Jaspers joined the ISAF Secretariat from RS Sailing to head up the Training and Development Department. The Department supports the Development and Youth Committee and Training Commission of ISAF, and also has responsibility for ISAF's Connect to Sailing initiative, disabled sailing, the ISAF Learn to Sail Programme and issues relating to the IOC's Olympic Solidarity scheme. Now three months into his new role and following the first-ever 'Train the Trainers' workshop held in Abu Dhabi last month, Dan reflects on his time at ISAF to date.

How have you settled in during your first three months?

The last three months have flown by and as we near the Annual Conference in Korea, I am reassured by the knowledge that there is a very passionate and dedicated team of people working here that supports everything I do. There's a dedicated team here at the ISAF Secretariat and I feel honoured to be working with all of them. I hope to be here for a long time and help ISAF to make a real difference to the future of our sport.

How have you developed your new role?

It took a little while when I first joined because the role itself was new but now my objectives have become clear. I like the fact though that by the very nature of the training environment, my role is very organic. I work across the sport in many aspects but they all relate to each other.

In short, I work to develop the sport of sailing. Firstly this is through the management of Olympic Solidarity funding for MNAs and sailors but also Technical Courses for Coaches, vital for creating opportunities for emerging sailing nations to receive funding.

Secondly, the big new project I am rolling out is the 'Train the Trainers' workshops which will develop fully accredited training programmes to develop the next generation of sailing athletes. This project extends to our MNA National Training Programmes which involves accreditation and subsequent inspections and validations. We're also responsible for the employment and training of new ISAF Trainers and Inspectors, so altogether it's a huge, but vital task!

Finally, a vital part of ISAF's training and development agenda is the Connect to Sailing programme which I now manage with my colleagues. Our sponsors who are all stakeholder in our sport, enable us through their funding to make these programmes happen around the world.

These areas and many more are keeping me on my toes and I am always finding new depth to existing responsibilities!

What have been the key developments during the last 12 weeks?

The biggest single achievement over the last three months has been getting the ISAF National Training Programme Accreditation Process accepted and having the RYA in the UK Sign up for a pilot inspection this October. This is indeed a milestone and I am looking forward to continuing this with many more MNAs over the coming years.

Can you give us a rundown of a typical day for you?

There is nothing typical about a day at ISAF! When I'm in this country I generally work 08:15-6:30 at the office. I have such a varied workload – from all day Commission meetings where we discuss our future targets, meeting Connect to Sailing Partners , through to planning the next Workshop with our MNAs.

I currently invest a good deal of time creating documents that will be used for MNA development – from evaluations of existing Training Structures to applications for Technical Courses. The greatest challenge is working across many different time zones and it can slow things down a bit, but I'm getting into a routine now with who to call when! A large part of my time next year will be running workshops in various countries to deliver our 'Train the Trainers' programme. This is a newly designed programme which we recently piloted in the U.A.E will form the next step for any MNA developing their own Trainers.

What has been your biggest surprise?

I thought that there was already a great deal of grass roots training taking place across the world. It is not and I am surprised that so many countries have been struggling for so long to develop their own programmes, therefore being able to provide this essential service to future sailors. I am excited by the interest that our programmes have generated and together with our team of Facilitators we are keen to get out there and share our resources with our MNAs.

What is ISAF doing to promote sailing for the youth worldwide?

Many countries recognize that sailing is an attractive sport. ISAF's role is to guide and support participation at all levels.Attracting youth is key to this objective. Our Training Department is developing the link with early experiences in sailing and events such as the Volvo Youth Sailing ISAF World Championship and Youth Olympic Games so that our youngsters can see a career path for themselves in our sport. There is so much competition for any young person's time in today's modern society and for any sport to be successful the International Federation needs to engage with a youth audience. We are actively using social networking sites and developing links with the virtual environment in order to make the connection and promote our sport.

So in summary, what's the main objective of your department? Why can't MNAs just get on with it?

ISAF wants to create a unified approach, creating a legacy for participation in all areas of our sport. If left to 'go it alone' some MNAs could be isolated and ISAF provides the global forum for the sport to be developed . Unique examples of Good Training approaches and best practice can be shared for the good of all. This way everyone can be part of our programme and with these links being built through a network of MNAs all driving one single message home, the sport of sailing will live to appeal to further generations of young people into the future.

What countries are you currently working with?

U.A.E, Oman, Bahrain, Iceland, Great Britain, France, Cayman Islands, South Africa, Australia, Brazil, Antigua, Turkey, Qatar, Burma …to name a few!

What simple advice would you give to any MNA or new country wanting to get involved but still not sure what to do?

If you have any question, no matter how small, it is vital that you get in contact. I have access to many ways of helping you and need to know what it is that you want in order to help deliver it. Please do not hesitate in getting hold of me through the ISAF website.

Click here to contact Dan:

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