The pursuit of excellence
20/10/17: In this week's blog Director of Sport, Alex Fermor-Dunman, reflects on the pursuit of excellence and how sport can drive cultural change.
It might come as a surprise to learn that as a Director of Sport, I have been charged in the past with being ‘soft’ when it comes to results by colleagues who have suggested I don’t care enough about winning. This couldn’t be further from the truth; what they haven’t quite grasped is that, in the pursuit of excellence, the aim is to win ALL the time, by ensuring both the processes and the performances are excellent.
If our only measure of excellence is in the outcome, i.e. if we win or lose, or the number of A* grades we achieve, then we have missed the point. It is the journey we each personally take in trying to achieve excellence that counts. In sport if we are only concerned with winning the game, and that is our only goal, then over time we lose, a lot.
The pursuit of excellence is a frame of mind, a culture, an ethos and a way of life that requires character, effort and respect. It is an ongoing quest to ensure that mediocrity is never accepted. An individual’s energy and intentions need to be focussed every day towards achieving their specific goals. We each must feel in our hearts and souls that we want to excel and continuously improve, somewhat akin to the Japanese principle of kaizen (kai = change, zen = good). With this all-encompassing approach, there is a far greater possibility that we will get the outcome to which we aspire.
Implementing a culture that focusses on the pursuit of excellence requires one or more catalysts. For Bryanston sport, one such catalyst will undoubtedly be the rejuvenation of the sports centre, which is currently mid project. The building has been designed and built with all Bryanston pupils and staff in mind. The fundamental aims are to encourage physical activity, and for health and well-being to be the bedrock of the individual pursuit of excellence for every member of the Bryanston community. Not everyone is a lover of mainstream sport, but there is a general recognition of the importance of physical activity, whether it be for pupils’ general health or, most notably, its undisputed relationship with improving academic study and attainment. And so, the number of sport-related extra-curricular activities on offer will increase in the near future, as will the range of games on offer, thanks, in part, to greater flexibility of facilities provided by the redeveloped sports centre.
For those pupils who hold dear the thought of pursuing excellence in all sports, the new Performance Sport Programme (PSP) opens up a world of possibilities. Under the expert guidance of Alex Chapman, Head of Performance Sport, PSP is focussed upon character, effort and respect, all of which underpin the pursuit of excellence. It will be the making of many generations of Bryanstonians.
We are already seeing the effects of this approach with pupils showing a greater desire to pursue sporting excellence. During the past 18 months five pupils have been selected for international rugby teams, there has been an international selection for a female cross-country runner and we have produced a member of the full Hampshire ladies’ cricket team, who were promoted to the super league this summer.
Sport can be a catalyst for cultural change to help the entire pupil body strive for excellence across a multitude of interests and we want this to be the case for all Bryanston pupils in all their areas of endeavour throughout their lives. To echo the words of Wade Gilbert, coaching scientist and performance consultant, “The pursuit of excellence allows for those who are not satisfied with good enough.”