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Small Blacks to All Blacks

5 August 2010

New Zealand rugby high performance player development manager Paul MacKinnon, today kicks off a series of workshops throughout Northern Ireland on how to develop emerging talent in the game.

The University of Ulster and management development and events company Podiem have teamed up with the main behind New Zealand rugby as part of the University’s successful ‘Raise Your Game’ conference series.

With one of he most prestigious roles in world rugby, MacKinnon will host talks at the Portadown Rugby Club on Thursday 5 August, the home of Ulster Rugby at Ravenhill in Belfast on Tuesday 10 August, and the University of Ulster’s Coleraine campus on Thursday 12 August. All start at 6:15pm.

The Ulster Sports Academy and Ulster Business School have joined forces to show business leaders how lessons learned from sport can be applied to commerce.

By bringing his sporting experience together with leading edge leadership and management practices, MacKinnon ensures a steady stream of high performing New Zealand rugby players.

His innovative approach delivers high standards both on and off the pitch ensuring the New Zealand continues as a leading rugby force on the international stage and with a third successive IRB Junior World Championship (U20) in Argentina – the approach seems to be working.

Paul said: “It is an all year round campaign and represents a great example of integration both within and across the sport in New Zealand. It is not a quick fix or an overnight success - this has taken a few years hard work to achieve.”

The initiative Small Blacks to All Blacks involves the development of both coaching structures and methods that are adopted by clubs at all levels.

MacKinnon also works directly with managers and coaches to develop their skills and his leadership workshops have formed the basis of their quest for excellence.  This is strategy in action, largely focused on leadership, vision, communication and learning.

The approach is supported with analytical techniques for performance management and improvement.

He said: “This shows how good business management can be adopted to help us formulate our High Performance Team priorities for the year and really demonstrates to everyone how we all fit together to achieve our vision. We all know the strategy and each of us knows our goals, roles and responsibilities. It’s the same in any business.”

As part of ‘Raise Your Game’ sportsmen and women and local business leaders have already experienced talks from four-times Olympic gold medal winning rower Sir Matthew Pinsent, champion jockey Dr Richard Dunwoody MBE, former Ireland cricket coach Adi Birrell, world-champion water skier Janet Gray MBE, Tyrone GAA coach Mickey Harte, and Commercial Director of Wembley Stadium Jonathan Gregory.

Dr Nigel Dobson, Co-Director of the Ulster Sports Academy, said: “To add Paul to our list of speakers on the ‘Raise Your Game’ conference series shows that the University is bringing some of the world’s most prestigious people in sport to Northern Ireland.

“With these world-leading sporting and business entrepreneurs sharing their experience with Northern Ireland’s leaders in commerce and sport, it can only further enhance our development and put us on the world stage in both disciplines.”

Podiem Director Bill Manson said: “The All Blacks are synonymous with success, it is clear that they invest significant effort and resources in identifying and nurturing talent to keep them at the pinnacle of the game. I’m looking forward to hearing how Paul MacKinnon can help local managers raise their game.”

For further info on the 'Raise Your Game' series and to register for the events email