STARS squad history

North Stoke School Sport Partnership was first approached in 2009 to get involved in the STARS programme. Previously all applications to enter this Youth Sport Trust programme were accepted from individual schools. Programme Manager and former Olympic rower Guin Batten was keen to see how bringing together the talented athletes from a number of schools would work.

In January 2010 an official launch with significant media coverage took place. Representatives from the other 9 Staffordshire SSP’s were invited along with the Lord Mayor of Stoke-on-Trent, Local Authority representatives, Head teachers and the Stoke-on-Trent 2012 Co-ordinator. International gymnast and leading athlete mentor Craig Heap was drafted in to deliver 3 workshops in the programme along with local high flying athlete Alex Nelson. School Sport Co-ordinators and Further Education co-ordinators from the SSP nominated 20 young athletes for the squad using three criteria:

1) participation in an Olympic sport

2) performance to national standard

3) training and/or competing for up to 15 hours per week.

Hayley Hall and some of the STARS squad team at a core stability session March 11

After a second session in the spring a meeting of parents took place to investigate the possibility of forming an action committee to bid for funding to support athletes in their progress. Mark Roberts (former International long distance runner) has given valuable advice in how the STARS squad can begin to sustain itself and indeed fund the needs of its athletes. A parents action group is now formed and bidding for funding from various sources.

We are delighted to now have squads in operation from all four North Staffordshire School Sport Partnerships and this was celebrated last February with a launch evening at Newcastle College with motivational workshops from athletes Emma Jackson, Ben Williams and Emma Ward. Also in attendance was national athlete mentor and international gymnast Craig Heap,former Squash champion Angela Smith and sailor Ian Harridge.

In a quest to sponsor a talented Stoke based athlete on their route to the London 2012 Olympics podium, Stoke City Football Club have set up an Aspiring Athletes Fund of £40k over the next 2 years, which athletes of any age can seek to bid into. The principle aim of the fund is to provide support in travelling, training and competition expenses, hardship and injury rehabilitation costs. Congratulations to a number of the STARS squad members who have already received grants from this Aspiring Athletes Fund.

Good Luck to all the athletes in their quest for glory and to their respective supporters, coaches, mentors and sponsors.

Click here for a copy of the STARS Squad Booklet

Nigel Edwards (North Stoke SSP), Helen Moors (South Stoke SSP)

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