After seven years at the helm of Jersey Sport’s Board of Directors, Phil Austin MBE, is stepping down from his position as Chair to make space for new people, perspectives and fresh energy into the organisation to continue driving forward Jersey Sport’s mission to support and advocate for sport and increase levels of physical activity across all age groups and abilities.
Phil Austin MBE, Chair of Jersey Sport, said, “I’m so proud of what we’ve done as a supporter, advocate and communicator for sport in Jersey and the work we’ve done within the community that really makes a difference to people of all ages and abilities, both in formal sport and in getting people more active, more often.”
In 2014/15, the Government of Jersey commissioned an external review of the management of sport in the Island, which led to the conclusion that sport would be best served by creating an independent body.
In 2016, Phil Austin was approached to Chair a shadow board to oversee the transition from the Government to a new body. Phil explained, “It was quite a complex entity to set up from scratch, including writing the organisation’s mandate and mission and to sell that idea to the States, and in June 2017 Jersey Sport was established.”
Phil continued, “Back then, the sporting landscape looked quite different. Although it was ticking over, it had a fragmented approach. We now have one body with a team and Board that are proud to represent and advocate for sport and physical activity for people of all ages and abilities.”
Phil is proud of everything the organisation has accomplished and the huge steps it has taken to raise the profile of sport and the initiatives it has set up to encourage more people to be more active, more often. He explained, “It was during the COVID-19 pandemic that Jersey Sport really came into its own: liaising with the Government, interpreting government guidelines and advocating on behalf of sports, and communicating that information to clubs, organisations, players and the general public. In addition, our teams were in schools during lockdown delivering PE lessons to children who would otherwise have missed out. Jersey Sport has worked with sports to improve governance, safeguarding and recruiting volunteers. In addition, we work closely with the Government on the development of facilities to support a growing and ageing diverse population.”
Alongside supporting and advocating for sport, Jersey Sport introduced its Move More Jersey initiative to get more islanders more active, more often and to improve physical and mental health and wellbeing. Phil said: “Jersey Sport has done a great job of getting into the community and encouraging people of all ages, backgrounds and abilities to do more sport or physical activity. During and after the pandemic, many people felt isolated and needed support in getting involved again, and the Move More Jersey team were an integral part to supporting islanders through this challenging time.”
“A fantastic example of this is the Cycle Without Limits centre for which the organisation raised its own funding for the special adapted cycles and safety equipment. We regularly get fantastic feedback from our attendees and their support workers and are incredibly proud of how this initiative is changing lives.”
Phil continued, “Sport and physical activity has an invaluable contribution to make to island life and to the delivery of the Government’s Common Strategic Plan. Serving as the Chair of Jersey Sport is a privileged and rewarding role and I would encourage anyone with a passion for improving the quality of life in Jersey to consider applying. While we have achieved a significant amount there is still much to do to unlock the many benefits that come from participation in sport and being physically active. With the appointment of Deputy Lucy Stephenson as Assistant Minister for Sport, it feels like we have a new energy and momentum and now is the perfect time to bring in a new Chair. Lucy is bringing new focus and advocating for sport and physical activity, and with the support of our new Chair and our CEO I look forward to seeing how the Government and Jersey Sport can continue to work together to unlock the power of sport and physical activity.”
Deputy Lucy Stephenson as Assistant Minister has thanked Phil for his contribution to Jersey Sport saying, “The Role of Chair of Jersey Sport is a volunteer role and over the last seven years Phil has dedicated many hours to creating, establishing and growing Jersey Sport. He has provided outstanding leadership to the organisation and has established a dedicated team of staff and I have seen first-hand the passion they have for sport and physical activity in Jersey. On behalf of the Government of Jersey, I thank Phil for his contribution to sport, not just as Chair of Jersey Sport but over many roles and many years.”
With Phil Austin stepping down as Chair, and with three other founding Directors coming to the end of their terms of office, Jersey Sport are now in the process of recruiting a new Chairperson and three new non-executive Directors on a voluntary basis, to continue the great work of the organisation and to drive it forward over the coming years.
Phil explained what makes a great Director, “For this role, it’s ideal that the candidates have an interest or background in sport, but this is not essential for everyone on the Board. It’s great for us to have a diverse set of Directors of different ages, backgrounds and areas of specialism. They needn’t have been at the top of an organisation, but they should be enthusiastic about learning and have the time to dedicate to Jersey Sport. I’d love to see some younger people coming on Board.”
As the outgoing Chair of the Jersey Sport Board of Directors, Phil is proud of the legacy he will be leaving. He said, “From the outset in 2016, we had a really great team of Directors with the passion and drive to do things properly and set up an organisation with solid foundations and a clear focus. Recruiting Catriona McAllister as CEO was an important factor; we really got the right person with her on so many levels. Our legacy is that we’ve established and set up an impactful organisation that I’m sure will continue for a long time to come. I’m leaving Jersey Sport in great hands – with both the existing Board of Directors and the Senior Management Team.”
For further information and to apply for the role of Chairperson or a Non-Executive Director role at Jersey Sport, please visit: www.jerseysport.je/jobs. Closing date for applications is 15 May 2023.