Few people are as excited for next year’s Commonwealth Games in Birmingham as Francesca Carter-Kelly. Having joined Commonwealth Games England five years ago, Frankie was responsible for running the team preparation camp ahead of the Gold Coast showpiece in 2018.
Between now and then Frankie was the Chef de Mission for the World University Winter Games in Krasnoyarsk, Russia in 2019 but her focus is now firmly back on a home Games next summer.
Frankie, Commonwealth Games England’s Head of Performance and Sport Engagement and Deputy Chef de Mission (Sport and Athletes), said: “Within Birmingham we’ll have 19 different sports, 21 different disciplines across 11 days of action and packed competition. It’s very rare that you get that. Being amongst such a diverse range of people….you wouldn’t usually get the chance to experience that, so having that opportunity of living together, eating together, competing as one under that umbrella of Team England, I think that’s the element that makes it special.”
The behind-the-scenes element of a major championship is usually only experienced by the athletes competing and those support staff directly involved in the Games. This won’t be the case in Birmingham as Commonwealth Games England and SportsAid are working together to deliver the Team England Futures programme. The next generation of athletes and support staff will benefit from exclusive access and support to better prepare them for the challenges of future multi-sport competitions. Frankie believes that the programme will provide vital experience for everyone involved.
“We want it to be an opportunity to be able to inspire the next generation and the one beyond that, so as well as working with about 130 athletes and support staff who are potentially earmarked as being future athletes and future support staff in 2026, the programme also gives the opportunity to work with up-and-coming athletes who are currently progressing further down the talent pathway,” said Frankie.
“We want Futures to give people an understanding of where sport can take them.
“The programme will be working with a number of Team England and SportsAid ambassadors who can share their stories, they can share the things that went well at their first Games and things that didn’t go quite so well, and just give an opportunity to learn, looking to inspire the next generation of young athletes.
"A multi-sport games is different to a single sports championship, so Futures will bring together hundreds of young athletes and just give them the opportunity to experience the Games first-hand in a safe and secure environment supported by ourselves and SportsAid.
"As well as providing valuable experience of a Games village and the atmosphere, it’s hoped that those on the Futures programme will be inspired by the success of Team England.
"The programme, supported by Sport England, also intends to reinforce the importance of the Commonwealth Games, particularly one on home soil, as a developmental opportunity within the talent and performance pathway.
"The athletes and support staff will gain a greater understanding into being part of a diverse, multi-sport team and its values, and what it truly means to represent Team England.
“With a multi-sport Games the public will get behind athletes,” said Frankie;
“We’re expecting jam-packed stadia in Birmingham, so for the Futures team to have the opportunity to be a part of that, to be in the ground wearing their Team England kit, cheering the team on, I think that’s really special.
"Going into a home Games we’ll be doing as much as we can as a wider team to ensure the athletes are best prepared to be able to compete. There are many events and many sports taking place across the programme so those involved in Futures will get the opportunity to see that first-hand.
“I’m sure they’ll get the opportunity to see one or two medal winning moments,” Frankie adds;
“I think there’s a real emotion that comes with that. Quite often that medal-winning moment could have happened in a split second but actually it’s knowing the work, the effort, the energy, the commitment, the dedication that’s gone in behind that.
"Those involved with Futures will get the opportunity to see that medal winning moment but they’ll also hear some of those stories behind the medal-winning moments so they can understand and appreciate what has to go in to make that happen.”
You can read more about Team England Futures on the SportsAid here.