Lockdown, leadership and sweet potatoes… 2021 is off to a flyer!

For me 2021 is turning into the year of the sweet potato, firstly because I did Veganuary and learnt that a lot dishes incorporate sweet potatoes. I’ve also started reading James Kerr’s book ‘Legacy – What the All Blacks can teach us about the business of life’. One of my favourite parts so far is where they talk about humility and how for the All Blacks, the quality of having a modest view of one’s importance is perhaps the ultimate accolade and at the core of everything they do. As James Kerr so perfectly puts it:

“The sweet potato does not need to say how sweet it is”

While I’ve been consuming my bodyweight in sweet potatoes, the country in my opinion has been in the midst of its toughest lockdown yet. Dark mornings and evenings, screen fatigue, decreased motivation and lack of things to look forward to are the types of comments I’ve been hearing regularly and I can definitely relate to some of those.

With this in mind, recovering from the Coronavirus pandemic will be top of the priority list for many organisations and sectors over the coming years and is one of the five big issues outlined in the latest Sport England strategy. The 10-year vision launched in January aims to transform lives and communities through physical activity and sport.

Uniting the Movement (pay rise to the person who came up with that tagline by the way) really resonates with me and it even had me doing a little ‘whoop whoop’ when I read that ‘realising the power of people and leadership’ is named as one of the key catalysts for change. As Sport England put it;

“The people who spend their time helping others be active are our most precious resource and their potential is limitless”

The people this statement is referring to are our sectors sweet potatoes, it’s the coaches, leaders, instructors, deliverers, clubs, volunteers, professional workforce and people who make movement, physical activity and sport happen. We must say thank you to these people, their resilience, adaptability and enthusiasm to get and keep people active over the past 12 months has been truly inspiring.

However my message here is simple, as we begin the recovery from the biggest crisis in a generation, we need the people who make physical activity and sport (the sweet potatoes) now more than ever before to help us reinvent movement, physical activity and sport to make it more accessible & inclusive.

From my perspective, the question is how do we look after our sweet potatoes? What environment do they need to stay fresh and thrive? What soil do we need to grow more? And where do we find the seeds?

This is something I’ll be exploring over the coming months and I’d love to hear from you if you are someone who helps people in Bucks & MK to be active. We want you to help us shape our workforce support during the recovery and reinvention from Covid-19 and you can do this by attending one of the events below and/or completing our ‘What our workforce want survey’ (details below).

Tuesday 23 Feb 21, 7:30pm – 8:30pm – Let’s talk about it: Supporting deliverers to recover & reinvent from Covid-19

Thursday 25 Feb 21, 1:30pm – 2:30pm – Let’s talk about it: Supporting deliverers to recover & reinvent from Covid-19

What our workforce want survey

Thanks for reading,


(sfenlon@leapwithus.org.uk / @Shay_Fenlon)