Loughborough student creates support hub for young athletes and their parents (VIDEO)

Joe fuggle

A Loughborough University student has created a ground-breaking online platform that supports athletes and parents with wellbeing.

Joe Fuggle, a former GB Junior 400m hurdler, founded theathleteplace following his own struggles in sport.

Launched via the The Loughborough University Enterprise Network, theathleteplace is a robust space that provides vital advice and guidance for those involved in athletics.

This includes a U20 buddy scheme which provides junior athletes with one-to-one support with established athletes and parental peer to peer guidance through its extensive support networks.

Joe, who joined Loughborough as a student on the Sport with a Foundation Year for Elite Athletes programme, is currently based in The StudioLoughborough University's business incubator – where he sits alongside fellow like-minded entrepreneurs who are also developing new, innovative and sustainable businesses.

“theathleteplace is an online platform creating guidance and information for athletes and their parents in track and field athletics,” he explained.

“Initially it took a focus on mental health in athletes but then I later realised that there’s so much more to wellbeing than just mental health.

“For me, I forgot to balance things – life, sport, education – I didn’t get that balance right which led me to being all or nothing in my sport. That really took a downward spiral in January 2020.

“I fell out of love with the sport despite running a personal best in my last competition. Then, two weeks later, I left my training group and didn’t step foot on the track for ten months.

“It all fell apart and it was down to my own doing for not having the right support around me.

“It’s very easy to just get lost in the journey and process of sport, and to focus on the wrong things and to be driven by external validation and external achievements.”

Alongside support for those competing, Joe, with his Mum, Caroline, have focussed on providing resources for parents and guardians of young athletes by launching “The Parent Hub”, the UK’s first and only platform dedicated to parents in athletics:

“There is no ‘one size fits all’ for raising an athlete…we know that parents are always their number one supporter, but if they’re not getting the correct guidance and support themselves, then how are they supposed to support and guide?”.

Joe’s business continues to go from strength-to-strength, working alongside various partners and national governing bodies (NGBs). The latest of which is England Athletics, who saw something special in his product:

“I was particularly enamoured and drawn to the innovation of the platform,” said Chris Jones, CEO, England Athletics.

“I have three teenage children, two of whom are involved in sport at a community level, and they will no doubt face similar challenges. As a parent, I want to know how best I can support them through those sometimes difficult periods.

“In some cases, young people these days need to be encouraged that it’s okay to not be okay. We have a responsibility to create an environment, culture, and safe space for people to flourish and be their best.”

For more information on theathleteplace visit www.theathleteplace.com and for more information on The Loughborough University Enterprise Network, visit www.lboro.ac.uk/len