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Harry Koskie and Geoff Dyson: Sports Coaching in Britain after WWII.

Day, DJ (2016) Harry Koskie and Geoff Dyson: Sports Coaching in Britain after WWII. In: 20th International Congress of the European Committee for Sports History, 05 September 2016 - 07 September 2016, Leicester, England. (Unpublished)

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Abstract

Britain’s athletes and swimmers prepared for the 1948 and 1952 Olympic Games in a landscape of ongoing defeats across all sports by foreign competitors from America, Europe and the Empire. This was not a new phenomenon and merely represented a continuation of the sporting disasters of the pre-War period, the result of a combination of factors including lack of government support, the arrogance of amateur sporting officials, and, in particular, half a century of resistance to the employment of professional coaches. During those fifty years there had been a number of intermittent attempts to establish a British coaching culture and, although these had failed to embed the position of coach into the elite sporting environment, there were signs in the late 1930s that National Governing Bodies (NGBs) of sport were becoming more receptive. This openness extended into the post-WWII period and had led to the appointment of national level coaches by 1948. The Amateur Swimming Association (ASA) appointed amateur Harry Koskie to lead them into the London and Helsinki Olympics while the Amateur Athletic Association (AAA) appointed professional coach Geoff Dyson. This paper explores the coaching lives of these men through archival material, newspapers, family records and census data and utilises minutes from NGBs and other organisations to put their coaching practices into the cultural context of the period. The author compares and contrasts the experiences of these two coaches as they tried to make Britain’s representatives more competitive with their European and American rivals, and concludes that the structural constraints imposed on them made their tasks almost impossible.

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