Champions Road

Leadership Coaching and Mentoring For Youth


Champions Road is a social enterprise created by master strategist, coach and author, Ben M. Bartlett. Specifically, it is a youth coaching and mentoring service that uses team sports, fitness, outdoor education and traditional learning to help youth excel at life and achieve big goals.

As well as coaching youth, Champions Road supports parents in the life development process for their youth-aged sons and daughters.  And it helps youth whose parents are absent from their lives.

With Champions Road, Ben has taken the high-level strategic management and leadership development programs he uses for coaching and consulting with CEOs and other business leaders.  And he has adapted them to youth development.

Then, Ben has combined these programs with more than 30 years working with youth in a variety of roles including outdoor adventure instructor, scout leader, fitness trainer, church youth leader, life skills mentor and championship-winning sports coach.

Champions Road’s coaching and mentoring focus? Leadership skill set development.

Let’s elaborate on the concept of leadership.

In the field of leadership there are two types of leadership, and collectively these form Ben’s Two Leaderships Model.

As illustrated, the first type of leadership is team leadership, which Ben defines as the ability to guide others to pursue and achieve team goals.

The second type of leadership is personal leadership, which is the ability to guide oneself to pursue and achieve personal and team goals.

The most valuable leadership?  It is personal leadership.  And in terms of leadership development, you need to first learn how to be a leader of you.

And the best thing about personal leadership?  When you are better at leading you, you will be much, much better at leading others.

Introducing the Leadership Skill Set

The key to leadership excellence is the development of the leadership skill set.  This is a cluster of leadership skills that an individual needs to excel at work and in life.


The skill clusters include:

Relationship wealth skills – The ability to develop strong, healthy relationships with others.  Relationships are the currency of success.

Strategic communication – The ability to communicate effectively in multiple ways including personal communication, writing, public speaking, empathetic listening and using effective body language.

Mindset (including executive functions/functioning) –  Located in the brain’s prefrontal cortex, the executive functions are the brain’s higher-level cognitive skills and are known as the brain’s CEO.  Executive functions include intrinsic motivation, focus and strategic planning skills.

Technical skills – The ability to perform the technical skills required to perform a role.

Physical skills – Specifically refers to health and fitness including aerobic fitness, functional strength, nutrition, speed and agility.

Strategic management.  Strategic management is the overarching leadership competency that ties in all other skills into a strategy which one develops and execute.

The 7 Ladders of Success

How to measure genuine leadership ability?

7 Ladders is another concept of leadership developed by Ben, and which he uses in his professional career working with business leaders. With Champions Road Youth Ben has adapted the concept of 7 Ladders to the field of youth development.

As illustrated, the 7 Ladders presents 7 areas of one’s life that measure genuine leadership ability.  Further, it is these ladders that one must climb in order to fullfil one’s potential.  The 7 Ladders are:

  • Leadership and Relationship Mastery
  • Home success
  • Education competence
  • Career/Business success
  • Nutritional and Physical Fitness
  • Financial growth
  • Avocation and social impact

All in all, Champions Road teaches youth the Leadership Skill Set, thereby helping them to excel at the 7 Ladders.

Youth defined?

Youth is that period of one’s life between childhood and adulthood. In terms of age range, the United Nations defines a youth as aged 15-24, while New Zealand’s Ministry of Youth Development defines a youth as aged 12-24.

Youth is the age range where a lot of physical and mental development takes place.  As such then it is important that youth use this time to develop a full range of skills, including social, physical and mental skills.

Champions Road operates thanks to generous business sponsorship, as well as funding support from participating schools and sporting organisations.

The Inspirations Behind Champions Road

There are three inspirations behind the development of Champions Road.

Firstly, Champions Road realises Ben’s passion for coaching youth to become champions of life. 

This passion is driven in part by Ben’s challenging upbringing, whereby mentors and coaches helped him to turn around a troubled childhood surrounded by family dysfunction, alcohol and drug abuse, crime and financial hardship.

The second inspiration is the famous quote:

“Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime”

Originally created in 1885 by novelist Anne Isabella Thackeray Ritchie, this quote firstly highlights the value and importance of a teacher or coach. That is, someone who teaches, coaches, mentors and helps another person to improve a skill.

Secondly, the quote highlights the value of the skill. In this instance the skill is fishing, but the reality is, you can replace the word fish with any high-value skill to get the full power and meaning of its original intent.

In Ben’s view “feeding people fish” in the form of charitable giving is only a short term fix that only addresses an immediate need.  Contrast that with “teaching people to fish”, which is more strategic, philanthropic and focuses on a long term solution.

And, the third inspiration is this old poem by Sadie Tiller Crawley:

At the Crossroads

He stood at the crossroads all alone, The sunlight in his face;
He had no thought for the path unknown, He was set for a manly race.
But the road stretched east and the road stretched west,
And he did not know which road was the best;
So he took the wrong road and it lead him down,
And he lost the race and the victor’s crown.
He was caught at last in an angry snare
Because no one stood at the crossroads there
To show him the better road.

Another day at the self-same place a boy with high hopes stood;
He, too, was set for a manly race; he too was seeking the things that were good.
And one was there who the roads did know,
And that one showed him the way to go;
So he turned away from the road leading down,
And he won the race and the victor’s crown;
He walks today on the highways fair
Because one stood at the crossroads there
To show him a better road.

This poem highlights the importance of a guide or mentor, whose role it is to show youth the better road.

And the focus?  Again, the focus is on helping youth develop their leadership skill set.

How do we help youth develop personal leadership? Three ways.

  1. Youth Coaching and Mentoring

Champions Road Youth firstly coaches and mentors youth in the 7 Ladders. There is a strong sport and fitness focus with our coaching as we believe sport is a great teaching tool and a wonderful metaphor for life.  And, through sport youth learn valuable life skills such as:

  • Strategic management
  • Relationship-building and teamwork
  • Resilience and mental toughness
  • Communication
  • Hard work
  • Self-discipline
  • Resilience and overcoming adversity

Let’s be clear. Champions Road is not about developing the next superstar rugby player, cricketer or footballer, so they can play professionally. After all, the fact is, only a small minority will get to that level.

Champions Road Youth is about developing superstar problem solvers, creative thinkers, planners, leaders and team players.  It is about helping to better prepare youth for a life of education so they can become great teachers, doctors, builders, accountants or any other type of occupation.  And where they learn how to be better citizens and positive contributors to society.

Now, if some end up to become sporting superstars, then that’s an added bonus…but the main focus is on building personal leadership and life skills.

With regards to mentoring Champions Road Youth provides youth with mentors in academic, career and life development.

Champions Road mentors are unique in three ways:

  1. They have achieved a high-level of success in their careers and lives
  2. What they have achieved has come by overcoming significant adversity and barriers
  3. Champions Road Youth mentors are passionate about passing on their knowledge to youth

2. Youth Advocacy

With Champions Road we advocate on behalf of youth to the media, youth leaders, schools, politicians and parents.

Firstly, we hold politicians leaders, social services providers and education leaders to account. We highlight bad decision-making, policy and strategy that severely disadvantages youth.

Second, we work with parents, youth workers, coaches, school leaders and teachers to help them to better fulfill their roles in youth development.

3. Youth Leader Development

Th 3rd way Champions Road Youth helps youth is through youth leader development.  This is where we provide development and support programmes to youth leaders, namely youth coaches, school leaders and parents.

For enquiries about Champions Road, please email ben (at)