Gordon MacLelland: Part 1

Date of publishing: 12th November 2017

Can you give us a bit of background information on yourself?

CEO: Working with Parents in Sport

I am Gordon MacLelland. I currently am based in Yorkshire and have been involved in sport all my life as a player and a coach.  I played county cricket as a schoolboy and was an England trialist at U19 level in rugby union. For the last 20 years I have had a coaching career that has encompassed all age levels from 7 year olds to adults.  I was coaching men’s rugby union at the age of 23 after injury curtailed a playing career and have coached rugby, football and cricket to juniors up to the age of 18.

I have a BA/Hons degree in Sports Science from University College Chester and a PGCE from Lancaster University.

I’m a qualified teacher and have been a Director of Sport at an independent prep school in the UK for the last 10 years. I have also worked in schools in New Zealand.

How would you define a parent(s) role within the youth sports environment?

Undoubtedly the parent has a significant role to play.  They provide the most emotional support and are key role models in any young person’s life and can have the greatest impact. They also provide the most financial and organisational support in most cases from transport, buying kit, finding the right sport and coaching and the weekly logistics getting children from A to B.   That is why we believe so passionately in what we are doing in supporting them.


What are the benefits of embracing parental involvement within youth sports?

This generation of parents are different to before and want to be involved in far more aspects of their child’s life.  We need to recognise this and embrace it.  Many are keen to help and support but are unsure of the best way to do this.  Many are peaceable human beings who just want what is best for their child and need direction in how they can best support.  If we can engage parents then the benefits are huge.  A positive training and match day environment, coaches and parents focussing on delivering similar messages(no confusion for the child) and more importantly everyone working together(no us and them).

There can be major benefits for the clubs.  Help with transport, fundraising, food and drink, work on social media and crucially creating an environment where many more people will want to come and join a club creating such a positive experience.

What have we tried to do here at WWPIS to help support clubs, coaches and parents?

We recognised that in the world there are very few dedicated sites just for parents in sport.  We wanted them to feel valued and create a portal where they could go to access information without having to trawl the internet.

We also felt that many failed campaigns by clubs and governing bodies had centred on preaching to parents as opposed to really engaging them and we wanted to create a social media channel on Facebook and Twitter that presented information in a variety of different formats but crucially with a degree of empathy towards them and not in a threatening or shaming way. The social media side is important for us as many clubs and organisations give out some material at the beginning of a season much of it along the right lines but we wanted to provide a service giving those messages out throughout the year to reinforce positive messages and behaviour.

Our pocket book that can be made bespoke to organisations stemmed from this.  It is a proper published piece of work as opposed to a sheet of A4 and we feel that parents who get it feel like some care has gone into the information.  Although only a 50 page pocket book the difficulty for us was creating a product that was short, easy for everyone to understand and crucially in a price range affordable by all.   Crucially for us we want to work with clubs and organisations not take over from them, hence we are delighted when people change our cover and the images within our book to suit their organisation.  It adds a real personal touch.

When you purchase Sporting Do’s & Don’ts you will also receive an exclusive code which gives you access to even more information about this very important area of sport on our website.

This exclusive material has been written especially for sporting parents by Nino Severino, the former British No.1 Tennis Coach and member of Team GB 2012 Olympics (as a member of the Great Britain Tennis Olympic Team.)


Nino has been coaching junior as well as senior athletes for over 30 years and has a wealth of experience in junior coaching and parent support. The juniors who have benefited from Nino’s coaching and knowledge have been at all levels, from club, county and regional to world class.

The material you will get access to has been specifically developed for parents in sport and is an invaluable source of information which could make all the difference to your child’s enjoyment and performance in their chosen sport. (THIS NEW MATERIAL WILL BE READY IN OUR MEMBERS AREA BY THE MIDDLE OF DECEMBER).

We feel in its price range alongside the website and social media, it will be the largest and most complete resource dedicated to supporting parents in sport.

We have also created three presentations that we deliver, one for organisations, one for coaches and one for parents.  We also run bespoke workshops as well with the aim being to try and align all three of these key stakeholders.  Without these three key areas working well together many systems in this area are destined to fail.


Click here to purchase yours: Sporting Do’s & Don’ts

What challenges have you faced when attempting to embrace, educate and involve sports parents?

The reality is that many adults do not like to be told what to do.  Many do not like to be preached at and the biggest challenge is finding ways of engaging them in a fun, friendly and none threatening or shaming way.  We believe that we have a few strategies to make this work, I am not sharing them on here or no one will want to hear us talk.

We believe that in this area external voices are better, who can be honest and open without parents feeling under pressure or worried about their child being selected or having to face people from within the club week in and week out.

As a result we try not to use ‘educate’ in any of our material and much prefer to say we are supporting parents.  We need to remove this ‘us and them’ tag.


You can find more about WWPIS on these social media outlets, and access to a wide variety of material on a daily basis please follow WWPIS on Facebook and Twitter:


Facebook: WWPIS

Twitter: @_WWPIS

Thank you Gordon for taking the time to complete the following interview questions.

The Sporting Resource

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