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News > Sport

SVG Launches National Sports Project to Correct Coaching Errors

  • Speaking at the end of a 15-month-long training period which ended May 16 with the final workshop and the presentation of certificates, Tyrone James did not mince words.

    Speaking at the end of a 15-month-long training period which ended May 16 with the final workshop and the presentation of certificates, Tyrone James did not mince words. | Photo: Robertson S. Henry

Published 24 May 2017

The St. Vincent and the Grenadines national sports program's vision will adapt for the rates at which an athlete matures rather than one based solely on age, among other things.

An official of the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Olympic Committee has blasted coaches and their approach toward training sportsmen and women in the country.

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Speaking at the end of a 15-month-long training period which ended May 16 with the final workshop and the presentation of certificates, Tyrone James did not mince words.

“We had to come to terms with several new concepts and recognize the reality that our present approach in sports was to a large extent failing our children. Many of our coaches treated athletes like a personal investment and saw them as a vehicle to personal fame and fortune.

“In their pursuit of medals and glory, they had them training from the same or similar training programs. There were little to no consideration for female athletes as opposed to male athletes, early bloomers to late bloomers.

“This approach largely isolated many talented athletes who were late bloomers, discouraged many children from participation in physical activity (not sport), because of their win at all cost mentality and caused unnecessary injuries through overwork and treated children athletes like adults, failing to take into consideration that our young athletes were still in a growth stage.

“Their approach was a one size fits all,” he commented.

In February 2016, as part of its long-term development plan for sports, the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Olympic Committee, in conjunction with the Caribbean Associations of Olympic Committees and Sports for Life Canada, embarked on what should have been a two-year Long Term Athletes Development and Physical Literacy pilot project, aimed at creating a developmental pathway for sport in the country.

The project subsequently rolled out in six Caribbean member states simultaneously, namely Haiti, Trinidad and Tobago, Bahamas, Suriname, the British Virgin Islands, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

Sports for Life Canada provided technical and expert assistance through several webinars and onsite workshops.

Speaking at the closing ceremony of the CANOC/S4L Canada/SVGOC training, Tyrone James pointed out that one measurement of success in St. Vincent and the Grenadines was the production of five sport-specific LTAD frameworks to guide the future development of the individual sport.

“I am pleased to say that St. Vincent and the Grenadines surpassed this and in fact saw the completion of eight documents, some of which are on display today,” James stated. The documents come from basketball, table tennis, football, taekwondo, cycling, swimming, and paralympics.

He went on to state that, “The last fifteen months were undoubtedly a very difficult period and a learning experience for all of us, as we were essentially venturing into hitherto uncharted territory — at least for me.

“Today we are here to recognize the completion of the first stage in this project. With the help of our friends from Canada, we have worked hard and today eight sports have in their possession a training, competition, and recovery program,” he added.

The LTAD program establishes guidelines for coaches, athletes, administrators, and parents in all areas, including planning, training, competition, and recovery. It is also about identifying potential and providing appropriate developmental pathways for that potential to be fully realized, and ensuring that everyone who wants to learn a sport has the opportunity.

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It is a program with a long-term vision that adapts and account for the rates at which an athlete matures rather than one based solely on chronological age; it is athlete centered, coach driven, but requires the full support of administration, sports science, and sponsors.

The term “physical literacy” may sound intimidating, but it is actually a simple concept. Physical literacy is merely about developing the fundamental movement skills that all children need, such as running, hopping, throwing, catching, and jumping.

These movement skills, in turn, give kids the confidence to participate in different physical activities, sports, and games. In the same way children learn to speak by interacting with their parents from an early age, the same is true of learning to move with confidence. It doesn’t require special equipment or training, just a bit of knowledge and the simple and natural desire to give your kid the right building blocks from the start.

Getting children to become physically active is critically important, as today in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, one cannot but notice that the number of amputees has significantly increased, that there are children right now with type 1 and 2 diabetes, and deaths from non-communicable diseases have significantly increased.

According to James, “This was unheard of in our time. This situation is underscored by a 2013-2014 National Health and Nutrition Survey which revealed that 60% of Vincentians (82.7% women) do not engage in vigorous physical activity, 54% of Vincentians (67.2% women) are overweight, 26% of Vincentians (40% women) are obese, and 94% of Vincentians do not eat the recommended daily quantity of fruits and vegetables.”

He went on to state, “Although the figures herein relate to the adult population; it is a well-known fact that the CNCD's develop over time. Many of the habits and behaviors that lead to the development of these diseases are formed when persons are young. The greatest impact on prevention can, therefore, best be achieved when the intervention is made during the zero to five year period when individuals are most impressionable. And that precisely is the age group that we are targeting with physical literacy.”

To begin correcting this he pointed out, "Simply put, we have to get our children moving again. We have to get St. Vincent and the Grenadines moving again. Today we are presenting this concept of LTAD and physical literacy as the vehicle through which this can be achieved.”

The last 15 months for those involved in the project may have appeared to be tough but in reality that was the easy part. The hard part now is to sell the concept to the constituents, to find innovative ways to capture the interest of children and get them out from in front the television and computer screens to taking part in physical activity.

James congratulated those who stayed and participated in the fifteen-month long course. “You have however proved through the past months that you are committed to this cause and I encourage you not to lose your drive and love for this country.

“They may not know it yet but our children need you. The completion of every journey starts with that first step and you are already on the move. Success is the result of hard work, learning from failure, loyalty and persistence.

James concluded, “I will like to recognize the hard work of our project leaders who would have made tremendous sacrifices, balancing work, family and this project and still managing to complete the process within the time allocated.”

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