Blogs & Opinion

Phil Clarke:

Most Popular Posts:

Recent Comments:

Trevor Fuller on Running on empty

"Hi Phil, Another interesting & thought-provoking article here! One thing I'd like to know is, if you compare this situation currently with clubs in the NRL in Australia or New ... " View all comments

Phil Clarke assesses Sky Sports' new mentoring programme

Phil Clarke Posted 26th February 2014 view comments

Sky Sports has introduced a new mentoring programme aimed at maximising the potential of athletes - and Phil Clarke is enthusiastic over his involvement.

Some people I know think that Sky Sports just turn up at sporting events, plug in the cameras and broadcast a live event. They're not aware of the work that goes on behind the scenes. I'm not talking about the hours of preparation to co-ordinate all of the live coverage, no, I'm talking about some of the invisible things that Sky Sports gets involved in to make a difference.

Phil Clarke will mentor British pole vault star Holly Bleasdale

Phil Clarke will mentor British pole vault star Holly Bleasdale

Those of you that have read some of my previous articles may have once seen me write about the unofficial mentoring programme that took place at Wigan RLFC during the 80's and 90's. It was one of the ways that the club was so successful at lifting trophies between 1985 and 1998. They managed to find a way of getting the older more experienced players to pass on their advice and habits to the younger ones coming through.

Denis Betts was one such example. He was fortunate to be 'adopted' by Andy Goodway, who selflessly gave his time to Denis whilst he was at impressionable age. He didn't tell him what to do, but was there for Denis to learn from and talk things over. Most people don't realise that most successful sportsmen and women have had challenges and obstacles to overcome on their journey to the top.


This week the Sky Academy launched the mentoring programme for its twelve Sports Scholars and I'm excited and delighted to get involved. The whole idea of any mentoring programme is to 'support and encourage people to manage their own learning in order that they may maximise their potential , develop their skills, improve their performance and become the person that they want to be" - Eric Parsloe.

What happened in an unstructured way at Wigan for 20 years ago, and probably at Manchester United for the last 20 years, is now accepted as an effective way of helping people to progress in their careers and Sky Sports have decided to help 12 of our countries youngest and most talented athletes.


The idea is to match two people (the mentor and mentee) with similar experiences and although I've never sprinted down a runway with a pole vault in my hands, I have tried to combine a university degree with a career in sport. I've been chosen to assist Holly Bleasdale, the British record holder and current European Indoor Champion. She's from the North West like me, and is currently studying for a degree in Sports Exercise and Science at Manchester Met University whilst preparing for the World Indoor Championship.

It's an exciting programme and a way for the people like myself at Sky to share some of our experiences and assist whoever we can. I'm not the only one involved. Here is a list of my colleagues and the athletes that we'll be supporting over the next few years:

Athlete - Jess Judd (Middle Distance)Mentor - Natalie Sawyer

Athletes - Jason Quigley & Jack Bateson (Boxing)Mentor - Johnny Nelson

Athlete - Quillian Isidore (BMX)Mentor - Darren Campbell

Athlete - Sam Oldham (Gymnastics)Mentor - Geoff Shreeves

Athlete - Elise Christie (Speed Skating)Mentor - Will Greenwood

Athlete - Holly Bleasdale (Pole Vaulting)Mentor - Phil Clarke

Athlete - Lucy Garner (Cycling)Mentor - Annabel Croft

Athlete - Siobhan Marie O'Connor (Swimming)Mentor - Anna Woolhouse

Athlete - Louis Persent (400m)Mentor - Michael Atherton

Athlete - Savannah Marshall (Boxing)Mentor - Adam Smith

Athlete - Olivia Breen (Sprinter)Mentor - Di DoughertyI wouldn't be surprised if one or two of the clubs in Super League look to do something similar. I know that some of them have talked about it before, but as the level of competition amongst the top clubs intensifies each year, it's another way in which they can gain an edge and have a positive influence on the lives of the young people that they're involved with.

back to top

Other Rugby League Experts:

Latest Posts in Rugby League:

Phil Clarke

Clarke: Six into one

Phil Clarke looks at the contenders for the League Leader's Shield as we head into the sharp end of the season....

Phil Clarke

Rules of the gain?

Phil Clarke is worried some of the basic laws are being ignored just to make rugby league faster....

Latest News RSS feeds

Tigers confirm Clark sale

Castleford have confirmed that hooker Daryl Clark will join Super League rivals Warrington at the end of the season.

Westwood targets top-two finish

Ben Westwood says Warrington are aiming for a strong finish to the season with the hope of securing a top-two finish.

Double injury blow for Hull KR

Hull KR have confirmed backs Ben Cockayne and David Hodgson will miss the remainder of the Super League season.

Wolves v Giants: Teams

Huddersfield can leapfrog Warrington in the Super League table with success at the Halliwell Jones Stadium.

Naiqama to become a Bronco

London Broncos have continued their recruitment drive with the signing of Fiji World Cup centre Wes Naiqama.


Super League: Leeds Rhinos Challenge Cup win caps a great era

Super League: Leeds Rhinos Challenge Cup win caps a great era

In years to come when they look back on the great teams in the history of rugby league they will talk of the Wigan dominance of the late eighties to the mid-nineties, the 1982 and 1986 Kangaroo tourists and others such as Huddersfield’s ‘Team of all talents’ around 100 years ago.

Good Week/Bad Week: We take a look at the winners and losers from the last seven days

Good Week/Bad Week: We take a look at the winners and losers from the last seven days

So much can change in a week of sporting action and, sure enough, there have been plenty of highs and lows over the past seven days.