The IPC Athletics Trainer and Educator programme for 2015 took place in Dubai, UAE this week - the first of a series of courses developed to increase the number of volunteers essential to the growth and development of para-athletics.
Any IPC Athletics event, from Grand Prix to World Championships, hinges around the hard work done by a relatively unseen group of officials from around the world involved in classifying, coaching and officiating.
With more programmes than ever planned for 2015 - and at least 18 already scheduled to take place around the world over the next 12 months - IPC Athletics is determined to ensure that each year brings a fresh wave of classifiers through their programmes.
This week's programme, which was organised in conjunction with the IPC Academy, took place in the run-up to the first IPC Athletics Grand Prix of the 2015 season, the 7th Fazaa International Competition in Dubai. It provided seven days of training for Trainers and Educators from as far afield as the USA, Australia, New Zealand and Greece.
The aim is to enable each individual to lead further education programmes around the world - and ultimately increase the worldwide pool of officials involved in classifying and technical officiating.
This is in addition to the recent development of IPC Athletics online learning programmes which are now available in French, Spanish and Arabic to further support para-athletics development of key volunteers and officials both nationally and internationally.
The Dubai schedule involved two key elements:
A Trainer programme for current educators who will then be able to teach the next wave of educators for IPC Athletics and other IPC sports;
An Educator programme for four classifiers, to enable them to become `classifier educators' who can teach IPC Athletics classification programmes.
Thanks to funding from the Agitos Foundation and support from the Dubai Sports Club for the Disabled, IPC Athletics can offer even more programmes to developing countries - ensuring that classification is understood on a worldwide level.
"This week's programme has been essential, as we believe that better trainers mean better educators and they, in turn, guarantee better classifiers and coaches throughout para-athletics," explained IPC Academy trainer Simon Jones.
"The classifiers and coaches who will be involved with athletes in the future will be better trained to answer their needs and will continue to set high standards in both coaching and classifying."
Jones believes the programme can only continue to go from strength to strength, adding:
"Ideally in the future, each country will have their own trainers and educators so that they can develop their own education programme. So, setting up a series of training courses around the world sets this process up for the future."
Also on the agenda in Dubai this week is an International Classifier programme and a National Classifier programme - set to take place at the same time as the IPC Athletics Dubai Grand Prix.
After that, a National Classifier programme will take place in Tunis, Tunisia, in the run up to the third IPC Athletics Grand Prix of 2015 - the 9th Tunis International Meeting.