Performance Meltdown!

It emerged a few days ago that the highly regarded coach Joseph Capucek is due to resign from the “Program” and offer his services to Italy instead. From the outside we cannot possibly tell if this was a choice based on money or situation or whether the Program have pushed out another coach due to differences of opinion/direction. If it is indeed a selfish decision on Josephs part then all sympathy to both the athletes and the management with the new headache of finding another quality coach, and fast!

If however, as some rumours have it, that Joseph was pushed into his decision due to management failings then we have a very different scenario. Over the past 7 years we have now made our way through 9 senior men’s coaches. Some I know well enough to know that it was management issues that forced their resignation others I don’t know at all. One even resigned between being offered the job and taking up the post! Basically the fact is that any coach with any experience of coaching at this level has left or been pushed out within a very short time span. Why? Is it that wages are not there to hold the guys? Probably not as they have all applied for the jobs based on the wages available, so unless they are stupid we can rule that out. What we actually need is the Performance people to step up and tell us, or if not us, then definitely the athletes, exactly what has gone wrong. This is not a time for political bullshit and talking up the reality, this is a time for being straight and honest. The athletes deserve more respect than they are getting. For them they are putting everything on the line, careers and futures and all with no guarantee of success. For staff and management all that is on the line is their wage packet, there is no comparison. Everything on the line for <£10k with success a long shot, application must be 100% and the rest of your life put on hold, versus a comfortable >£40k, keeping your job despite obvious failures and having the option of moving straight to another job when this one ends with a “bigged up” CV to back you up. Yet it is the athletes who are due to suffer from the systems failings.

Lets look at facts. Any coach who has suitable pedigree and experience of other coaching systems leaves before completing their contract. The only coaches we have left now are. Ian Wynne, who, though he has lots of race experience and the intelligence to coach, actually had no coaching experience prior to his appointment. Steve Harris is in the same position with regard to prior coaching experience, but with much less racing experience and with less capacity for original thought. Brendan Purcell is the third guy left standing and he also had very limited kayak coaching experience before taking the job. In short it looks like the only three guys left are those who don’t know any better or know they are lucky to have the job in the first place.

We can only wait to see what will happen now; I would like to see Ian moved up and get back to his own training principles and not be forced to follow the flock as he has been. Alternatively Steve could be reinstated in a position he was only sacked from a few months ago, or Brendan can be put in charge of a group of guys who are not partial to inexperience, and rightly so as their futures depend on results. Whatever does happen needs to happen fast and be 100% in the interests of the athletes, no nepotism no cronyism and no bullshit. If it does turn out that the reason these coaches are leaving is down to management failings then management need to change. They must remember they are there to serve the athletes and not the other way round (or am I missing the point?)

There are those who will disagree with my take on events but that is fine, so long as we have the discussion without the usual “performance spin” being put on things. You could say that the team is performing very well, especially the women’s side. What I would say to that is I agree, but remember Miklos, who seems to be making the difference there, failed initially to get the job as the Performance guys employed Brendan Purcell and Trevor Hunter ahead of him! Miklos had to force his way into the team by taking athletes on the fringe of the programme and getting them to perform, and thank god he persisted otherwise we would not be in the position we are in today.  

The paddlers and our sport as a whole deserve better than this, we all need to know what has gone on and what is going to be done about it.

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