Australian Paralympic History Project: October 2018 Workshop

A picture of the APC workshop with four of the participants creating and editing content for Wikipedia
Workshop participants

The Australian Paralympic History Project held a workshop in Sydney on the weekend of 27 and 28 October.

Tony Naar shared news of the workshop on the Project’s Facebook page (link).

Seven people attended the workshop. The project team were delighted to welcome a new member, Cecelia Hutchinson-Parsons. Cecelia came to the workshop after a week of volunteering at the Invictus Games in Sydney.

Cecelia created a Wikipedia article about the Iceroos (link) and helped update the 2018 Invictus Games article.

A picture of the Iceroos team
The Iceroos

The APC’s CEO Lynne Anderson visited the workshop as did the APC’s  Communications General Manager Tim Mannion. They met the workshop organiser, Tony Naar and Cecilia, as well as Ross Mallett, Greg Blood, Gary Osmond and Patricia Ollerenshaw.

Patricia is working on articles about the 2000 Paralympics at the moment.

Tony noted of the workshop:

Creating and updating Wikipedia articles about Australian Paralympic sport relies almost exclusively on a handful of volunteers, who do an incredible job. As a result of discussions on the weekend, we have decided that we will now pursue a ‘small scale’ approach of catch-ups in the cities where we have active editors and seek to expand these groups by individual contact and one-on-one support.

He added:

We desperately need to expand the core group of contributors to maintain this unbelievable project.

I do try to keep an eye on this project. It has made an enormous impact on the open sharing of Paralympic stories with an Australian focus. I do monitor the articles and hope to be more active in supporting the editing of the articles created and maintained by the project team.

For anyone thinking of finding ways to use their creative talents, this is a project most worthy of consideration.

Photo Credits

Sydney Workshop (Tony Naar)

Iceroos (World Para Ice Hockey)

Netball observation and analysis connections: Sheffield City Polytechnic

When I attended Celia Brackenridge’s memorial service in October 2018, I had an opportunity to meet some of her colleagues from her time at Sheffield City Polytechnic.

One of those colleagues was Nicky Fuller.

Nicky has had a lifetime involvement in netball. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, she joined the game analysis research group at Sheffield City Polytechnic as an MPhil student.

Nicky submitted her thesis in August 1992. The title was A Computerised Analysis of Netball. It is available from the Sheffield Hallam University Research Archive (Link).

The abstract for the thesis includes:

This research stemmed from the observation that much netball coaching is based on relatively superficial and subjective observations of a team’s performance and a lack of longer term coaching strategy or recognised ‘benchmarks’ for relevant aspects of technical and strategic play. … The findings of the literature review, combined with discussions with the national coach for netball, led to the development of two main aims for this project. (My emphasis)

The aims of the thesis were:

To develop a means of providing netball coaches and players with useful post-game feedback from individual matches, which of itself could be accumulated into individual and squad performance statistics over periods of time.

To investigate the possibility of developing a model of ‘winning’ netball performance which coaches might use as an aid to coaching.

Nicky worked closely with the national netball coach, Heather Crouch, to identify parameters of netball performance that should be analysed.

The game analysis group at Sheffield had been using microcomputers for some time. Their experiences informed the design of a software system and a modified keyboard for Nicky’s research.  She used a lapsed-time analysis method to collect data from 28 matches taken from two international tournaments.

Nicky’s research led to development of a ‘profile’ of winning performance that was statistically different from losing performance. She identified nine performance characteristics.

Nicky’s supervisors were John Alderson and Malcolm Brewer. With them and others, Nicky wrote in 1990 for the National Coaching Foundation a state of the art review of match analysis in sport.

The review included details of the work of the Sheffield game analysis research group. These included:

Brackenridge, Celia H. with Alderson, G. John K. (1982) ‘The implications of sport classification for sport science’, in R. Bartlett et al.. (Eds.) Proceedings: Sport and Science Conference, British Association of Sport Sciences, pp. 2-14.

Brackenridge, Celia H., and G. John K. Alderson. (1983) “Interaction Analysis in a team game with particular reference to the use of microcomputers.” In Proceedings of the Sport and Science Conference, Liverpool University.

White, Anita and Brackenridge, Celia. (1983). Understanding and developing team interaction. Paper for the seminar on ‘Coaching Team Games’, West Midlands Regional Sports Council.

Brackenridge, Celia H. (1984). Match Analysis.

Brackenridge, Celia H., and G. John K. Alderson. (1985) Match analysis. National Coaching Foundation, Leeds.

Alderson, G. John K. (1985). Scene-setter paper to the BANC/NCF/BASS workshop “Match Analysis in Sport“, Sheffield City Polytechnic.

Mackinnon, Gordon. (1985) Racket sport analysis; computer applications. Paper to the BANC/NCF/BASS Workshop, Sheffield City Polytechnic.

Mackinnon, Gordon. (1986) Match analysis of squash rackets; applications for coaches, unpublished paper sports science scholarship seminar, The Sports Council, London.

The game analysis research group played a very important role in the emergence of notational analysis in the United Kingdom. My meeting with Nicky brought back memories of my visits to Sheffield to meet analysts there.

As with other people interested in notational analysis in academic institutions, the Sheffield group mixed a passion for sport, educational technology and coaching. Nicky’s supervisor, John Alderson, had an academic interest in skill acquisition and studied for his PhD with HTA Whiting. John published a number of papers in the early 1970s including:

Whiting, H. T., G. J. Alderson, and F. H. Sanderson. (1973). “Critical time intervals for viewing and individual differences in performance of a ball-catching task.” International Journal of Sport Psychology.

Alderson, G. J. K., Diane J. Sully, and H. G. Sully. (1974). “An operational analysis of a one-handed catching task using high speed photography.” Journal of Motor Behavior 6, no. 4 (1974): 217-216.

Alderson, G. J. K., and H. T. A. Whiting. (1974). “Prediction of linear motion.” Human Factors 16, no. 5: 495-502.

His PhD at the University of Leeds was completed in 1974. The title was The development of motion prediction ability in the context of sport skills.

Nicky’s MPhil research took place in this epistemological context. She was an early adopter of the BBC microcomputer that enabled the use of a programmable data input instrument (a purpose-built keyboard using microswitches).

As such, her work was a seminal contribution to cumulative research interest in hand and computerised notation. I think it makes invaluable reading for students interested in the analysis of sport performance.

When I met Nicky in October she was working with coaches in a variety of sports and was still an active coach in her local netball community … thirty-six years on from her Sheffield days.

Photo Credit

Sue Keal flying at Wembley (Our Netball History)

Nicky Fuller (Women Make Coaching)

The permanently rickety elaborate structures of living …

There was a formal celebration of Celia Brackenridge’s life on Friday 12 October. Celia’s family and friends from all over the world came together to share the day. (Video link)

It was the culmination of months of planning by Celia’s partner, Diana Woodward. We learned too that the content of the day was also planned by Celia.

Celia’s friend, Sue Ravenlaw, led the celebrations and was able to help all those present focus on Celia’s life and her journey. She was assisted with her role by other friends Celia had asked to speak  “at any event that might be organised”.

Anne Tilvas read a letter from Tracey Crouch, the Minister for Sport.

The story of when Celia was very young was shared by Celia’s sister, Dinah, and her words were read by Celia’s cousin, Jo Carroll.

Celia’s journey at school and her subsequent academic career was shared by Mary ‘Austy’ Kirkland, a lifelong friend. Mary had accessed Celia’s papers to research her part of the celebration and gave us a fascinating insight into Celia’s love of music and sport. I was particularly interested to hear that Celia kept a record of every game of lacrosse she played in her diaries and had reflected on each performance.

A cello performance by Erica Simpson connected us with Celia’s passionate interest in music. Erica played J S Bach’s Cello Suite No. 1 in G major. I thought Celia would be delighted with Erica’s performance. It was a wonderful expression of virtuosity in celebration of a loved friend.

Rosie Mayglothing provided an insight into Celia’s advocacy and championing of causes that persisted despite sport’s attempts to ignore the issues. Rosie and Celia were friends for over four decades and Rosie’s account helped put Celia’s work from the mid-1980s onwards into an important cultural context (as did the Minister of Sport’s letter).

Rosie was followed on to the stage by Celia’s stepsons, Alex and Nick. The title of this blog post comes from a poem by Ursula Fanthorpe, Atlas, that was read by Nick. It was a poem read at Celia and Diana’s Civil Partnership in 2006. I think it was an inspired choice then and was perfect for a Friday celebration at Wembley. Celia would have been immensely proud of Alex and Nick’s sharing of their life with her and Diana.

The formal part of the day ended with Diana’s story of being with Celia for thirty years. I do not have a vocabulary to express my feelings about Diana. Her fortitude over the last three years has been a beacon for me. Her actions have taught me how to care and love in a profoundly different way. My wife, Sue, and I tried desperately not to contact Diana when she was being inundated despite wanting to hear whatever news there was. We had the great good fortune to spend some time with Celia and Diana the last time we were in England late in 2017. It was an occasion to ensure we did not have subsequent ‘if, only’ conversations.

Sue Ravenlaw concluded the formal part of the day and we exited the room to Celia’s choice of a Mills Brothers’ song from the 1930s.

Then it was time for the informal part of the day. To meet and laugh with family and friends about a most remarkable woman.

I have not written about Celia’s work in women’s sport, child protection and safe sport. I thought Rosie’s part of the celebration did this very powerfully.  There is a digital resource at The Change Makers that provides a comprehensive record of Celia’s work. I was delighted to learn of the receipt of the Celia Brackenridge International Research Award by (AJ) Alexandra Rankin-Wright. AJ’s work is exactly the kind of evidence-based approach that Celia championed. I think she would have admired immensely AJ’s acceptance words for the award.

Our son, Sam, came with us to the celebration. He has met Celia many times in his thirty-three years. Sue and I were able to introduce him to some friends in the informal part of the day who were also part of Celia’s story … and like Atlas “keep our suspect edifice upright in air”.