Craig AnthonyAs I reach the end of my first month at British Wrestling, I felt it time to reflect on what I have learnt and where we, as a sport, are heading. I am very conscious that I still have a huge amount to learn but I’m excited by the opportunities that the sport has over the next few years to build on the good work that has come before. I want publicly thank Colin Nicholson for his work over the past 10 and half years and his support over the past month as I’ve transitioned into the role.

The passion for wrestling pours out of those that I have spoken with so far. This passion can drive a sport to great things if correctly utilised. I am keen to get out to speak with more of you, our members and key stakeholders, over the coming weeks and months to ensure my experience reflects the variety of views within the sport.

However, what is clear from my conversations so far is that the three key objectives the board have centred around fit well with the aims of individuals within the sport. These objectives will enable us as an Association to have a clear picture of why we do what we do. Those three objectives:

1. Safety, health & wellbeing for all

What is great about this is it gives us the ability to recognise the power that wrestling can have to help people and communities. We know that we have our challenges within the sport and we will continue to develop our ability and processes to deal with these. However, I can’t deny the appeal of wrestling having a significant impact on some of the broader social and cultural challenges that the country currently faces.

2. Increase membership & participation

 At the heart of any sport should always sit the individuals who take part, the sport is for you and by you. We must develop our ability to cater to the needs of a growing membership by providing the type of sport you want to be a part of. That includes developing the infrastructure of clubs, coaches and officials to support our core disciplines but also the wide variety of wrestling styles happening across the UK.

3. Win medals and honours

If the past few years have taught us anything in the sports world it is that winning isn’t everything. It is just as important to win in the right way. At the same time, we can recognise that performance sport requires a great deal of commitment and sacrifice. Balancing this whilst having real ambition to be a world player in wrestling will present some challenges. We have the opportunity over the coming years to develop a performance system that can support our young athletes to reach their full potential to deliver medals and honours for British Wrestling.

It is with these three objectives in mind that I hope we can continue to drive the sport forward to deliver the growth, profile and success that we all know wrestling deserves.

I’m excited to have started at a time where the organisation has been able to benefit from commercial investment which has enabled the Association to bring in an Office Manager, Theo Finitsi. Theo has helped me settle into the role whilst still learning herself but I’m confident that she will enable us to free up more time from the CEO and Operations Manager positions to drive forward those key objectives alongside the Club Development Manager. 

We will continue to look to secure financial support from government agencies, Sport England and UK Sport, but also broaden our approach to diversify our income streams. With the aim that British Wrestling will be less reliant on funding and a more resilient organisation capable of driving the sport forward. Any additional income will always be directed around those three key objectives of safety, members and medals.

Lastly, I can’t sign off without expressing deep gratitude to the wide number of volunteers who give huge amounts of personal time to the sport. I’ve been struck already, as I mentioned above, by the commitment and enthusiasm displayed and I’m keen to make sure we as a collective work together to push wrestling forward.