Newcastle Eagles coach hails Team England Futures camp as inspirational

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Leila Benyahia
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CHESTER strength and conditioning coach Leila Benyahia believes last weekend’s innovative Commonwealth Games ‘Immersion Camp’ in Loughborough will be inspirational for the next generation of athletes writes Alec McQuarrie.

Benyahia saw her Newcastle Eagles basketball side win the play-off and cup double in 2020/21 the year she joined and was selected as a member of support staff on the Team England Futures programme, will see over 1,000 talented young athletes and aspiring support staff given the opportunity to attend the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games, watch live sporting action and take a first-hand look behind-the-scenes.

The programme seeks to better prepare athletes to deliver medal-winning performances as either Team England, Team GB or ParalympicsGB debutants at future Games, while also giving support staff a first-hand look at the opportunities they could be presented with, as well as challenges they may face, at a multi-sport competition.

And for Benyahia, 30, focusing on the fine margins of elite sport to give the athletes she works with every advantage possible is the most fulfilling aspect of her profession.

Benyahia, speaking in Loughborough, where athletes and support staff had the chance to meet each other, visit Kitting Out and experience workshop sessions on topics such as working with the media, mental wellbeing and anti-doping, said: “I think the most rewarding thing about my job is being able to help the athletes on their journey to develop and do their best in whatever way I can. It can be in a big way or a small way.

“Especially at the elite level there’s not a lot of new things that I’ve been teaching them in strength and conditioning, but the small details really help to push them over the line.”

At Loughborough, the Team England Futures participants got to meet Olympic and Commonwealth medallists like SportsAid ambassador and title-winning Gold Coast netball captain Ama Agbeze.

And Benyahia added: “I think it’s really inspiring to meet high-level athletes just because it’s something they can relate to.
“Maybe they’ve got stories that they can share and tell them about their journey.

“Being in the atmosphere in the camp is inspiring in itself and makes it very real.

“It’s a nice thing that all the other sports come together before the Games and it doesn’t feel like they’re separate.

“It’s great to see all the athletes are really finding out what they’re going to be doing and getting that excitement going before the Commonwealths.”

Commonwealth Games England has appointed SportsAid to lead on the development, management and operational delivery of Team England Futures at the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games. You can find out more about the programme by visiting https://www.sportsaid.org.uk/partnerships/team-england-futures/.

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