On Target
August 31, 2012
The demands go beyond the coaches

St Vincent and the Grenadines is fast becoming an island with a growing list of persons who are certified as coaches in various sporting disciplines.{{more}}

But the field which has enjoyed the greatest attention has been track and field.

Over time, there have been over 100 certified track and field coaches at different levels of qualification, with an additional 17 level one coaches receiving certification last week Thursday.

As with previous courses, there is always a bubbly enthusiasm etched on the faces of the recipients, many promising to change the face of athletics in St Vincent and the Grenadines, giving much hope to the state of affairs.

Unfortunately, these ambitious words seem to evaporate mere hours after the participants have been presented with the certificates, and the gloss of the occasion immediately vanishes into thin air.

But whilst bemoaning these coaches’ lack of activity and in some cases, indifference, one has to examine the greater causes which may have instituted this sort of lethargy.

It is known that many of the coaches go to these courses, some were sent, while others are called; hence, the passion for the sport lies simply with their attendance for the duration of the workshops/courses.

The attendees, in the main, come from the school system, and as everyone is quite aware, physical education is non-existent in our primary schools.

More so sports, the next best activity in the schools, in many cases, possesses only nuisance value and is seen as obstructive to the education process, as it causes a loss of instructional time.

Therefore, one may well understand the frustration of some of the coaches who are willing to implement what they have learnt, but are often bombarded by a brick wall of resistance.

We here, are quick to make the comparisons with the success stories across the Caribbean, forgetting that they come about from government policies, which manifest themselves in worldwide achievements and recognition.

We laud the prowess of the Jamaicans in track and field, but do not stop to acknowledge the financial displacements endured by other sectors of their economy.

The responsibility for producing elite sportsmen and women cannot always rest on the coaches and the athletes themselves, but on the entire nation.

What now may be needed is a fresh approach towards coaching education all -round. Coaching here is strictly voluntary, but the sport is developing rapidly and moving away from volunteerism; hence coaches will need some sort of financial buffer from time to time, no matter how small.

Coaches also need the moral support not only from other coaches, but more so the executive members of the governing body, who need be aware of the needs of the coach and the challenges they face.

TASVG needs to seek out the coaches who have been certified and make an effort to call them together to discuss matters such national development programmes, coaching and coaching assignments.

Hence, the executive of the TASVG needs to build a better, friendlier support and communication with the coaches.

In the main, the interaction between the parties is mostly at the start of the courses and at the end.

Likewise, embarking on outreach workshops around the country, organised by the TASVG, with presentation done by both executive members and coaches, can augur well in helping to bridge that divide.

The current active coaches should also take it upon themselves to encourage their fellow coaches, share their knowledge, expertise, equipment, literature and contacts overseas.

TASVG can utilize the Olympism programme as well as its regular newsletter to showcase and highlight the work of the active coaches.

Additionally, the setting up an award/reward system not only at the year’s end, it could be monthly, bi-monthly or quarterly can also inspire the lagging coaches to do better.

There is also that sense that coaches are operating as distant cousins to the executive of TASVG; therefore, it may be wise to involve the coaches more in the planning and execution of competitions, thus making their role more inclusive.

A big part of the work of the executive is to constantly find resources, financial or otherwise, to assist the coaches in conducting their work efficiently and effectively in recruiting, training/monitoring and retaining athletes.

Let us see a revival and renewal one way or the other.