SMBLA goes global (well almost!)
The Scottish Mountain Bike Leader Awards "SMBLA" has been rebranded as "MBLA", Mountain Bike Leader Awards, in recognition of the scheme's use and status throughout the UK.
Now in its 13th year of operation, the scheme has grown beyond all predictions from its humble Scottish origins. Over 4000 people have qualified as Leaders through the scheme, in every region of the UK. The expanding network of Tutors delivering the awards has allowed the scheme to become more accessible to candidates beyond the favoured hotspots of mountain biking in Scotland, Wales and England, and, for the first, time in Ireland.
The adoption of the scheme by the British Army, following the lead of the RAF, has extended MBLA activity beyond the UK to The Falkland Islands, Cyprus, Canada and Kenya and mountain biking is now the largest growing outdoor activity within the military.
Scottish Cycling has one member of staff devoted to leadership within its Education, Events and Volunteering team, with additional administrative support. Jenny Wright works closely with the MBLA Committee who advise on technical issues and contribute to the strategic development of the Awards.
One important development within Scottish Cycling is the establishment of a mentoring programme to support the training and development of coaches, volunteers, and commissaires. Scottish Cycling have appointed 6 Tutor Mentors who will support trainee MBLA Tutors during their qualification pathway and as they start to deliver their first courses. These Mentors, together with staff from Scottish Cycling, attended 2 days of mentor training to equip them with the skills they will need to perform their role and understand the function of mentoring and how it can enhance the value of formal education and ongoing opportunities for learning. The mentoring programme will also contribute to quality assurance of MBLA, as well as providing a network of mentors to represent the awards at regional level, fostering relationships with tutors, local authorities, outdoor education providers, mountain bike centres and other stakeholders.
The quality of the training manual for the MBLA awards has been one of the scheme's strengths in gaining UK wide industry recognition. Regularly reviewed to stay abreast of new information and knowledge, the manual is now in its third edition and it has a new look to promote the new MBLA branding.