A lot has changed in agility over the last five years:
- Increased number of countries attending the EO and the AWC;
- More technical handling systems;
- Faster more flowing course designs (in Europe);
- Social media has made a huge difference to how we communicate and keep up with change;
- Changes in the format of agility competitions in the UK.
The list goes on.
Each year at the World Championships the team members tend to get in to long debates in the evenings about UK agility. The pros and cons, what works, what needs addressing etc... Thankfully over the last five years these debates have concentrated increasingly more on performance improvement opportunities rather than performance distractions (what's wrong).
One of the topics dominating a lot of discussions this year was how do we attract more supporters to international events and generally get more people involved with Team GB. Having strong support helps the team in a number of ways. Obviously having more supporters mean a louder crowd cheering the team on. Everyone I have spoken to who has been to the World Championships tell me they come home feeling inspired, motivated, wanting to be part of the team and keen to incorporate what they've seen into their training and clubs. All of these things filter down through the agility community and help to improve the overall standard.
Countries like France, Italy and Germany always have many, many supporters, but then they are in central Europe so you would expect that. This year I estimate more supporters travelled from USA, Canada, Japan and the Nordic counties than the UK. I wonder why? Are we more interested in attending a local show than watching the best in the World? Are we not prepared to forego one or two week long competitions to afford a weekend supporting the National team and developing our knowledge of top level competition?
Or is there something in our culture playing out here. We invented the sport, we're the best?
Five years ago the strategy was about developing high performing teams and cascading the knowledge, skills and learning down through the agility community. Mostly I think we've achieved this.
Looking to the next five years, we obviously need to continue increasing our performance to gain that competitive edge and I think we need to help shape the direction of agility in the UK.