Most young athletes aspire to be their sporting hero. A Rafael Nadal, a Lionel Messi, a Jacques Kallis, a Lebron James, a Usain Bolt or a Chad le Clos to name a few. You want to be them all but what is the secret of their success?
Young athletes are caught between a rock and a hard place in their developmental years because of lack of structure in its entirety. I am not saying there is no structure but what I am saying is that there is no South African philosophy that athletes can subscribe to. Typically if you are a passionate dad, you will enrol your child into a club sport. You want to spend more time with your boy so you end up putting your name down as the coach with little or no experience other than that you were once a superstar, the almost incredible and amazing player that ever walked the face of the earth. Truth be told, your memory has eluded you and as you and your wrinkles have forgotten to mention in the fine print of your stories of grandeur; you sat bench most of your career.
Sport at youth level in South Africa is coached mostly by passionate dads that go over and above to make sure their teams has a sponsor; that they have kits etc. Sometimes coach dad pays out of his own pocket for transport money get to get some kids home from practise or buys an odd pair of boots and socks because he can’t stomach the sight of one of his players playing around with broken shoes. This is the super coach I know and nothing has changed over the years. His heart is in the right place and if I were the minister of sport I would award every year a medal to these types of coaches who give so much and get so little in return, but are content with the arrangement.
99% of youth clubs don’t pay their coaches and it is all volunteer work. Do you already see the problem with this picture? Some clubs pay for coaching courses but on the whole it is impossible for the club to pay for all their coaches to go on courses and they don’t enforce the minimum rule of a Level 1 coaching course because they need coaches so badly, I am sure if their grandmothers asked to coach they would accept.
The road to greatness starts with the fundamentals and if coaches don’t have the tools to teach correct fundamental or have the right qualification to pass on the correct knowledge then how can you expect little Kallis Jr to be the best he can be for his age? The system needs a shakeup, and the minister of sport needs to focus more on youth development and the fundamentals thereof. Forget about the so called academies and school of excellence around the country. Focus on the bigger picture and implement a minimum mandate that if you want to coach sport in South Africa, you have to have a minimum coaching level. The older the child gets, the more qualified you need to be in order to coach them.
As my good friend Pitso Mosimane once said to me, “let’s develop a truly South African style of playing, let’s learn from the best but keep it South African” How are you supposed to do this when there is little or no South African Philosophy or manuscript to follow that is supposedly the responsibility of the sporting bodies. Fix up the curriculum and start educating the coaches with good quality content and enforce mandatory requirements to coaches with a gentle iron fist.
You will not send your child to school and be taught by a teacher not having any qualification so why would you send your child to go play sport with someone who doesn’t have the equivalent? If you want your child to have a decent future and open doors of possibility, then make sure he has a good education and that goes for his sport too.
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