John Dennen on the programme that allows young boxers to combine education with full-time training
ON November 1 the DiSE (Diploma in Sporting Excellence) boxing programme celebrates its 10 year anniversary. The course, for 16 to 19-year-olds, gives aspiring boxers the chance to train full-time while studying, finishing with a qualification worth 64 UCAS points to help students go on to university.
It can also become part of the athlete development pathway that can lean to the England team. Some who have made it to GB as well as others who have gone on to be successful professionals have made use of the programme over the last decade.
“So many boxers have gone to university now that wouldn’t have if it wasn’t for the DiSE programme because we’ve coupled education with boxing,” Adam Haniver, who runs the programme in the South East, also notes. “That’s a great thing, that’s a really powerful thing. I’m so proud of some of the boxers who have gone on to university.
“We’re really proud of that exit route. There’s plenty of boxers who go along the education route, whether they intended to or they didn’t intend to and they fell into it.”
“The majority of boxers will go along the professional route in terms of becoming a PT [a personal trainer]. It does supplement your income really, really well I feel,” he continued. “We’ve had boxers that get on to the England pathway. If they do well in the Youth championships or even if they do well in the Novices and are scouted. We had three boxers last year get on to the pathway.
“We’ve got several boxers nationwide that are on the pathway.”
The boxers continue to compete for their amateur clubs, the idea of the DiSE programme is to complement their training and support their education. “Boxers from clubs apply for DiSE, they still box for the clubs, they don’t box for us, we’re not an ABC. We just add value to what they’re doing and become a bit of an extension for the clubs. We work very, very closely with the clubs to ensure that we’re all singing from the same hymn sheets,” Haniver explained.
They focus on methods of learning. “Getting them to be very self aware so they understand it themselves,” Haniver said. “The [technical] stuff they’ve got to know, the physical stuff, mental stuff. Then we go into more holistic stuff; nutritional, then we go into things like lifestyle, how they manage their lifestyle and juggle all the different aspects of their life they have to handle, finances, even things like the health and safety. How you look after your kit properly. Knowing all the little one percents, like making sure you wash your wraps, your towels, things like that. We always say, who’s the boxer who can’t get better – the one who’s sick or the one who’s injured.
“It’s helping them structure all these little critical things around performance that actually make a difference… We’ve got values and behaviours that drive performance.”
“What we’re trying to do at DiSE is be very athletes’ needs centred and find out what their needs are, what’s going to make them successful but arm them with lots of different tools,” he continued. “In boxing, it’s chaos. A million things can happen. You’ve got to control yourself, control other people, there’s the crowd, there’s how you feel, there’s so many things that can affect your performance.
“We teach the boxers that there is value to things like shadowboxing, there is value to things like hitting bags. But actually one of your biggest skills in boxing, that we don’t often teach, is your ability to read your opponent. But we don’t often teach that or we’re not intentional about how we teach that.”
He explained their approach to education and boxing. “If the boxers understand your approach and they understand that everything they do has a rationale, a reason why they’re doing it, they’re going to buy into it. [In the past] you got told what to do, it was carrot or stick, and you did it. But nowadays kids want to know everything, they want to know why and a lot of them are very inquisitive and curious and if you don’t give them the why then you’re not going to get buy-in and they go through the motions,” Haniver said. “I think we need to adapt and evolve as coaches to makes things a little bit more athletes’ needs centred. So if we do get that problem kid, rather than say well bugger off then, we can actually look into how we can help and support them a little bit more, if we’re a little bit more attuned to learning principles, I think.”
The students do compile a portfolio to be marked for the qualification. “We have standards for the whole English and maths side of things. There is that academic rigour,” Haniver said. “Communication is another module. We’re talking about effective communication, what that looks like. It’s not just talking to people, it’s how you handle people, how you build relationships.” All of this ties into the transferable skills the course develops.
There are centres for the programme in different regions. Haniver’s is at Greater Brighton Metropolitan College, Mark Collings handles London’s at the Spotlight Centre, Michael Briggs’ at SGS College in Bristol, there’s Ivan Cobb at University College, Birmingham, the DiSE programme is at the Joe Gallagher Academy under Tony Challinor in the North West and Steve Cranston overseas DiSE at Gateshead College in the North East.
For information and how to apply, potential students or their parents should contact the relevant coach for their region. For further details visit the website here: https://www.englandboxing.org/courses/dise/.