As we plan to return to the mat, the Board and the Sports Committee have been reviewing how we can provide an improved participant experience with a view to increasing membership and participation. One area that was clearly identified in the 2020 membership survey was improving the quality and quantity of competitions.
Over the past year, we have been working hard behind the scenes on a new digital competition management system that when paired with other competition enhancements will improve the competition experience.
To improve the number of competitions we recognised the need for a framework to build around. This framework, or wrestling season, will support the entire community to understand the levels of competition provided as well as when they should be planning to compete.
At the January Board meeting, the Board approved the Sports Committee recommendation to design and launch a wrestling season for when we are to return to the mat.
The intention of this season is to provide a clear structure and focus for all participants from those who have been wrestling for many years to those just getting started in wrestling. Following a clearly defined season will enable better opportunities to promote the sport with an easy-to-understand structure seen in most British sports.
We believe that by providing the opportunity for wrestlers to develop and demonstrate progression across the season they will feel better prepared for the more significant competitions later in the season. There is a focus throughout this seasonal structure to provide the opportunity for progression and review that progression. This is an emphasis that we intend to bring to both participation and coaching with a view to continuing to increase the quality of wrestling across the UK.
This carries over into our plans for the performance pathway and the season is designed to enable wrestlers to demonstrate their ability ahead of the main international season during the summer months. For those selected there will be a continued build-up to international competition at the highest level. Whilst for those involved at the grassroots, the summer will present an opportunity for a break, refresh, and review to come again.
Centrally it will also enable British Wrestling to review and analyse the effectiveness of the season with appropriate time for change, adaptation and evolution. This is critical in our long-term goals to increase membership and participation and win medals.
The wrestling season will begin in September and culminate in May. The season will build across the 9 months starting with club competitions to peak at the British Championships.
At no stage is this designed to inhibit progress and there is scope within the framework to support clubs to provide more local, low level competitions throughout the season. Indeed we are ensuring that these type of competitions are integrated into the new digital competition management system.
This will require the support of the wrestling family and we have already spoken with organisers of many of the recognisable competitions across the UK. There was universal acceptance that this will be good for the sport and good for the competitions. We will be asking organisers of larger competitions to ensure their competitions are registered with British Wrestling well in advance, though we will ensure flexibility in this first year given the coronavirus restrictions. This will support clubs, coaches and athletes to plan appropriately which competitions to focus on.
The single biggest change will mean the moving of the British Junior Championships from November to May. We are conscious of the implications with exams and Ramadan however we are confident of finding an appropriate date in the calendar to enable young people the opportunity to compete to become a British champion.