Millfield Fencing selected for mindfulness mentor programme ‘The True Athlete Project’

A Millfield fencer and two coaches have been selected to take part in a year-long mentoring programme with The True Athlete Project (TAP), in partnership with British Fencing.

The initiative pairs young athletes with experienced professionals to help promote mental wellbeing, and aims to root athletes at the heart of unleashing sport's power to create social change.

Upper Sixth foil fencer David Williams has been matched with London 2012 Olympian and five time GB Senior Sabre Champion James Honeybone; the two fencers will have regular sessions, journeying together through The True Athlete Programme’s holistic athlete development programme covering five themes: Performance, Identity & Values, Mindfulness, Community Responsibility, and Nature and Connectedness.

Millfield’s Director of Fencing Tristan Parris and Fencing Coach Glen Golding have also been selected to be mentors as part of The True Athlete’s Global Mentoring Programme. Tristan has been paired with a Scottish triathlete, while Glen has been paired with a T37 para-200m runner. They join a cohort of 34 athletes across 21 sports and eight countries, including nine Olympians and Paralympians.

In his application for the programme, David said, “I strongly believe that this programme can offer support and guidance to serious athletes like me as I hope to make the next step in my career as an athlete. I really enjoyed working with The True Athlete Project’s founder Sam Parfitt at a camp in Nottingham as we looked into the strength of being present in the moment and being mindful. Not only is this very important to an athlete but also to a human being in general. I believe that this programme can help me in my fencing career and beyond.”

The True Athlete project aims to re-imagine sport as a training ground for compassion, mindfulness, and mental wellbeing. The organisation won the World Olympians’ Association Partnership Award for their innovative approach to sport.

David’s mentor, James Honeybone, said, “I am really excited to share my experiences and knowledge with a young athlete from outside my own club, while also looking to grow as an individual by having an open mind and looking at my own ways of thinking and doing things.”

Millfield’s Director of Fencing, Tristan Parris, said, “I am passionate about youth sport and the great benefits it can bestow. I have seen incredible highs and incredible lows and been able to help and guide young people and their teams through both. I’m excited to help a young athlete and at the same time I know that I will learn and develop as a coach, mentor and human myself."

Sam Parfitt, the founder of The True Athlete Project, said, “As a charity formed of Olympians, Paralympians, clinical and sport psychologists, mindfulness teachers and even policymakers, our team is acutely aware of the struggles athletes face. We are delighted, therefore, that we are able to deliver such supportive and special opportunities for young athletes.

We’re so proud to welcome David, Tris and Glen as our newest teammates and we’re also thrilled to embark on such a pioneering project with British Fencing. Together, we are showing how kindness and compassion go hand-in-hand with becoming a high performing athlete, and our hope is that this approach ripples out across sport in the UK!”