Peps2 hand-inONE of the most prominent influences on youth sport has launched a new venture to hone the skills of elite athletes.

Former England and Harlequins forward Martin Pepper has founded PEPS, a high-level coaching initiative to develop boys and girls as elite athletes.

The current director of sport at top-performing Barnard Castle School, Martin has been a leading light in the careers of many of its home-grown international rugby players, as well as other sports over the years.

His latest project of elite sports weeks has already won the backing of England and premiership rugby players Mathew Tait and Lee Dickson.

Mathew, a former student who plays for Leicester Tigers, said: “I enjoyed many sports at school but was able to progress to the rugby elite pathway thanks to the continued guidance of Martin.

“I am sure PEPS Sports Weeks will inspire other young people to reach their full potential and help forge strong links with coaching staff to aid their development.”

Lee, another former student and Northampton Saints team member, added: “Martin was instrumental in providing me with the confidence and belief to pursue a career in rugby. Sport was always a significant part of my life at school but the direction and support I received there and after leaving was invaluable in what I have managed to achieve.”

PEPS will also employ the same mental and physical coaching techniques needed to succeed at the highest level to cricket and girls’ hockey, netball and rugby.

Hosted at Barnard Castle School from July 25 to 29 and August 1 to 5, the residential or non-residential sessions are designed to help U11 to U15 age groups.

As well as high level instruction in the field, coaching includes classroom sessions covering sports psychology, nutrition, personal feedback, player centred skills, game awareness, injury prevention and rehabilitation, strength and conditioning and target setting.

Martin said: “I feel passionately about the future of sport for children and these sessions are designed to encouraging our talent and bridge the gap between schools/club and the representative pathways for our chosen sports.

“By the end of the week they will be able to go back to school or their clubs with something tangible which they can use to improve their performance and achieve their goals. Hopefully they will return for future sessions with us to help them achieve their sporting aspirations.”

Anyone interested in PEPS Elite Sports Weeks can book a place online at www.peps-sportsweeks.co.uk.