Ten years on, thinking about desire paths

This month, I will have been away from the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) for a decade.

The years seem to have raced by. My decade anniversary coincides with another AIS re-organisation.

I have tried to stay connected with my colleagues at the AIS but have stopped visiting the Bruce campus. Earlier this year (July), I wrote in response to Wayne Goldsmith’s Facebook post about the AIS.

My decade of absence, Wayne’s first line (“It’s breaking my heart’) and a visit to Sport Ireland for their High Performance Knowledge Exchange Conference have sent me off thinking about the place of the AIS in national and international sport.

There has been a consultation process in 2017 in Australia for a National Sport Plan that will be a long-term strategy for the whole of sport that will have four key pillars: participation, performance, prevention through physical activity, and integrity.

The Intergenerational Review of Australian Sport (2017) proposes a vision with four sub-components, and seven game-changers for the Australian sport community over the next twenty years.

My rewording of the vision uses strike through text:

For Australia to be the most an active sporting nation, known for its celebration of playinclusivity, integrity, thriving sports organisations, continued exceptional international success competitiveness in international competitions sport events, and a world-leading vibrant sports industry. (My emphases)

I am perplexed that we are aspiring to improve “our Summer Olympic performance from 10th in Rio to a top 5 place by 2036”. I had hoped that a visionary document for the 21st century might have gone beyond the sportive expressionism of a nineteenth century nation-state model.

Perhaps we might talk about optimising performance (at all levels) instead.

I could not find mention of ‘climate’ in the document. (It was not identified as one of the six megatrends in Australian sport in 2012.)

My decade away from the AIS and life in a rural community since 2007 have encouraged me to think about bottom up approaches to playful activity enriched by inclusivity and integrity. This to me is the essential transformation of a system that de-emphasises international success, celebrates personal growth  and acknowledges that performance at quadrennial festivals is a very small part of a much bigger task.

This task for me is to offer opportunities for young people to engage in physical activity and create desire paths one of which might lead to high performance sport. We can do this by valuing effort, championing integrity and inclusivity, and accepting that we are not defined by medal outcomes.

I am hopeful that the National Sport Plan in 2018 will provide an organic, long-term plan for the flourishing of play, games and sport in mid-21st century Australia … replete with expressive joy.

Postscript

I am using ‘desire paths’ in the way that Kate Bowles does:

is that it represents shared decision-making between separate users who don’t formally cooperate. So a desire path is both a coherent expression of collective effort, and completely unplanned — in fact, it’s the opposite of planning. Simply, each one puts her or his foot where it feels most sensible, and the result is a useful informal path that’s sensitive to gradient, destination, weather, terrain, and built through unspoken collaboration among strangers.

Photo Credits

No limits (Keith Lyons, CC BY 4.0)

The parsnip field home (Steve, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Australian Paralympic History Project Update: September 2017

Photograph of Australian Paralympic team member Katy Parish in the long jump at the 2012 Summer Paralympic Games in London

I have had an update from Tony Naar, the Facilitator of the Australian Paralympic History Project, about the progress of the project.

The Australian Paralympic Committee uses the hashtag #APCOnThisDay to post items on its social media channels (Twitter, Instagram and Facebook) to celebrate the history of the movement by recognising prominent birthdays and anniversaries.

An example from earlier this year:

The tweets are usually linked to the Wikipedia article about the athlete or event. Tony notes that these posts are among the most popular that the APC does. This is a great way to bring the history project to life and to wider public attention.

The e-history project at the University of Queensland (with Murray Phillips and Gary Osmond) is reaching an exciting phase. The website to host the e-history has been completed and a workshop is scheduled for Brisbane on 22 September 2017 to start to populate the site. There will be a second workshop, in conjunction with a Wikipedia workshop, in Sydney in November 2017.

The e-history site will bring together all the threads of the project that have been assembled since 2010, including the Wikipedia articles, the photographs, the oral history interviews, film footage such as the Don Worley collection and the APC’s own video collection.

The e-history is scheduled for public launch early in 2018.

The Winter Games in PyeongChang, Korea, are approaching. Greg Blood has created a Wikipedia article about Australia’s involvement at the Games, and there will be lots of work to be done on individual athlete articles in coming months as the Australian athletes are nominated and announced.

The APC is contacted regularly by past team members to loan us scrapbooks and photos for scanning, or to donate a range of items, from clothing to ephemera to equipment. This will need to be managed, recorded and stored appropriately. At present, much of this work is undertaken by Pat Ollerenshaw.

Tony shared news of a new generation of APC history volunteers. Currently three interns from the University of Western Sydney are working with the APC on the project.Two of the interns are working on implementing a strategy to recruit archivists and librarians to assist in managing and cataloguing our extensive collections. One is working on updating the contact lists of past athletes. All three have been updating Wikipedia articles.

Tony is also working with students from the intern program at Macquarie University. A group of 12 students from that program has just started working on implementing a strategy to recruit young volunteer Wikipedia editors through volunteer communities at universities and in the wider community.

One suggestion that has emerged is the creation of a Facebook page for the APC History group. The interns feel that this may encourage easier participation from younger volunteers and also be an effective communications tool to complement this email list.

It was great to receive Tony’s update. The project is in its seventh year and has been an exemplary way to share news of the Paralympic movement. I am particularly excited that the volunteer community is now starting to engage with young people and the energy they will bring to the sharing of history.

Members of the Australian Paralympic Team, led by Team official Kevin Betts, march in the Opening Ceremony of the 1960 Rome Paralympic Games

Photo Credits

Photograph of Australian Paralympic team member Katy Parrish at the 2012 Summer Paralympic Games in London. By Australian Paralympic Committee, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=48612437

Members of the Australian Paralympic Team, led by Team official Kevin Betts, march in the Opening Ceremony of the 1960 Rome Paralympic Games. By Australian Paralympic Committee, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=44615747.

#coachlearninginsport: joining an established team

Introduction

Earlier this week, I had an opportunity to watch the film Dior and I.

I think this is a great resource for coaches to consider. In fact, I rate it as highly as a non-sport coaching resource as Leonard Bernstein‘s The Love of Three Orchestras (1986).

It would be a great stimulus to coach learning conversations about leading and following.

Dior and I

This is the description of the Dior film (2014) from the film website:

Dior and I brings the viewer inside the storied world of the Christian Dior fashion house with a privileged, behind-the-scenes look at the creation of Raf Simons’ first haute couture collection as its new artistic director—a true labor of love created by a dedicated group of collaborators. Melding the everyday, pressure- filled components of fashion with mysterious echoes from the iconic brand’s past, the film is also a colorful homage to the seamstresses who serve Simons’ vision.

The director of the film, Frédéric Tcheng, observes:

The house of Dior is a storied world where managers, artists, and workers collaborate on a daily basis to create a vision and I consider the film to be an ensemble piece. Through immersing the viewer in the world of Dior and revealing the extraordinary effort required to produce a collection, I hoped the film would ultimately reveal a cross section of Parisian life…

Themes

There is one sentence in the film that really encouraged me to think about what it means to join a team … as the head coach. There is a discussion about Christian Dior‘s legacy and one of the staff point out that Dior was at the fashion house for ten years (1947-1957) and yet everything that happens today is grounded in his vision … sixty years on.

Some of the key issues for me are:

  • Raf Simons is appointed as Artistic Director to ‘modernise’ the Dior haute couture collections.
  • He is not fluent in French.
  • He brings with him Pieter Mulier as his studio director.
  • There is an established culture in the fashion house.
  • Two ateliers (tailleur and flou) have been responsible for decoding artistic directors’ visions for sixty years.
  • When Raf arrives there are two longstanding premieres of the ateliers (Monique Bailly, tailleur; and Florence Chehet, flou).
  • Both ateliers have 105 expert artisans who are practised in producing haute couture under significant pressure.

The film covers the eight weeks from Raf’s introduction to staff to his first show.

Just as Leonard Bernstein’s film had shared with me the profound understanding that he brought to conducting classical music, Dior and I introduced me to the visual aesthetic that Raf brought to haute couture. I was struck too by the process he used to deliver 54 looks for his first collection.

Three other themes came through to me in the film:

  • Raf’s ability to reference early Dior designs.
  • His use of guidelines (codes) to create autonomy for the design team to interpret his vision.
  • His connection with art to inform his thinking … and challenge his and others’ creativity.

The film concludes with the launch of the first collection. To avoid a spoiler report, I do think that the ending is a wonderful virtuous circle. The end also illustrates how even artistic directors become nervous and apprehensive before big performances.

#coachlearninginsport

I do think that experiences outside sport enrich our understanding of coach learning.

Dior and I is a 90 minute film. It would be fascinating to have an unmeeting learning opportunity where coaches came having seen one or both of the films mentioned in this post. I imagine there would be big issues to discuss and some granular detail.

This 1 minute 48 second trailer for Dior and I could be a start.

Photo Credit

Discussing dress design (Dior and I Gallery)

Raf Simons (theindustry)

Postscript

Some recent news about Raf and Pieter.