Parkour UK Cripples Coaching Businesses Over Christmas
Parkour UK (PKUK) is the National Governing Body for Parkour within the United Kingdom. They have provided support, qualifications, access to insurance, and other services to professional coaches and organisations via their membership program for years. Yet, PKUK has not been without controversy and has garnered ill feelings from the wider community since its inception.
Yesterday I received communications from a member showing that earlier this month PKUK had announced “enhancements and changes” to their membership in 2022. These were to start from the January 1st renewal date. With this, they describe a “move towards offering a suite of support and benefits” which seems to serve as an incentive to stay with them. Why? They go on to say that due to insurance costs increasing by 2.5x that of the previous year, they are no longer able to offer it to organisations. But, they will continue to provide insurance to individual professional coaches under a central policy. The cost of the membership for those individuals now being £35 per month, or £420 per annum. The support and benefits described are a “support call”, some discounts on merchandise from Parkour fashion brands, access to courses and DBS checks (which they must pay for), and some changes to what level 1 coaches can do. Tacked on to the end of the list is also that they will “clarify our position on performance and acro”, which I will explore later in this piece.
Of course, it’s understandable that PKUK would struggle to accept the financial burden of covering a 2.5x increase in insurance costs. They’ve been put in a difficult position. However, the organisation’s history and continued failure to offer transparency, connect with the community at large or serve the interests of all practitioners sets a tone that makes it difficult to sympathise. This is an organisation established in 2009, it’s been well over a decade. They have support from Sport England. They have revenue from qualifications, certifications, and memberships. Personally, I struggle to see how they can justify their financial position considering all this.
In an effort to support the organisations now scrambling to find insurance within the few weeks notice they have been given. Those weeks being over the Christmas and New Year period. PKUK has released a toolkit to insurers that they claimed would aid them in obtaining insurance. The communications they had with insurers contained the Coaching Conditions for their Level 1 & 2 QCF Awards in Coaching Parkour/Freerunning.
Here is how it starts:
The document goes on to recommend very narrow conditions under which insurance should be provided. It even expands to advise guidelines for parkour performances. They state that only a level 2 coach can perform independently. This implies you must gain their qualification to even work professionally outside of coaching.
One of the most egregious parts of this document though is point 7. The “Definition of Parkour/Freerunning activities” in which they state “Parkour/Freerunning activities are defined as any movements, families of movements and/or derivates of these that are covered in the Level 1 Curriculum.” They go on to say that “Acrobatics do not fall under the above definition and therefore are not covered in our current qualifications. For any members intending on teaching acrobatics we would recommend seeking separate insurance and qualifications best suited for this.”
Imagine for a moment, you are a struggling freerunner who decides to pursue coaching as a profession. You invest the time, energy, and money into becoming a member of PKUK. You gain their qualifications, you pay for DBS with them, CPD, and all the other required certifications needed. But, to coach one of the most integral parts of the contemporary practice of the sport you have to go to British Gymnastics and earn their qualifications in addition to all of this. It’s not feasible for anyone with a background like mine to afford all this. Funding can be found, but it isn’t always available as I have found many times in the past.
I’ve long criticised the notion of regulation. I believe that barriers to entry enforced by governance, do not serve their intended purpose, to improve the quality of the service delivered. They demonstrably only ever go towards lining the pockets of those who do the regulating.
This all falls in line with that perspective, does it not?
All things considered though, did this move help the members now desperately seeking insurance?
In short, no. Of course not. I have received reports from several organisations already. They have been declined and even dropped by brokers due to the communication from Parkour UK. It seems that many will now be unable to operate in the New Year as a result. PKUK is now crippling the coaching industry within the UK.
I’ll go into the consequences of these actions in further detail within the next piece I write covering this story. For now, I continue to receive contact from professionals within the community who are worried for their livelihoods. This being the result of either bumbling or shady handling of this situation by the organisation posturing itself as supporting our community.
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