LAST Monday I presented the following questions: What are we not doing right? What role should government, Sports and Recreation Commission, Zimbabwe Olympic Committee, National Sports Associations and the corporate world play in order for us to attain sports excellence in the country?
Today I want to look at the alignment of “coach education”, in view of how it relates with athletes development.
This leads me to looking at the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) coach education and certifications system (Cecs) vis-a-vis the way coaches are assigned to take athletes for international events.
From 2003 (after attaining an IAAF Cecs lecturer’s qualification) to 2007 I was the national director, coach education for the National Athletics Association of Zimbabwe (NAAZ) and put up a program me for Zimbabwe.
The whole idea was to match athlete development levels and programmes with coach qualifications. Over the years I have seen people being assigned to lead teams at all levels whose background is administration and not coaching.
By the way: “It is coaches that make coaches and not coaching courses.” I say that everywhere I stand in front of coaching students.
I have seen experienced discussions in this country, whether at association, National Association of Secondary Heads, National Association of Primary Heads, Zimbabwe University Sports Association etc, level, that coaches are merely assigned according to coaching qualifications they have and not coaching experiences and production they make.
Recognising that the resources and effort involved in developing an education programme may be beyond capabilities on a national level, the IAAF operates a coaches education and Cecs which is available as a service to member federations which would like to make use of it.
As from March 2007, Cecs features five levels of courses operating in seven languages, English, French, Spanish, Arabic, Chinese, Russian and Portuguese. For each course level the IAAF provides a standard syllabus, qualified lecturers and the necessary learning support materials.
Operation of Cecs is co-ordinated by the IAAF Member Services Department (MSD) and the IAAF Regional Development Centres (RDCs).
Individuals interested in attending a Level I or Level II courses should contact their national federation directly. Level III and Level IV courses are normally staged at the RDCs and are designed for a smaller number of coaches who will have specialist duties within their federation.
The Level V is the IAAF academy programme which is organised in co-operation with sport universities, as the IAAF operate what is called an equivalency system. With the introduction of the new Level I in the Cecs, there is the opportunity to emphasise and develop the educational aspects of kids’ athletics and teens’ athletics.
The new Level I will produce qualified youth coaches who will not only be able to train and prepare young children for kids’ athletics competitions (7-12year olds), but also provide the “bridge” to “real” athletics.
Level I courses will be conducted at locations in the countries of member federations, using IAAF accredited Level I lecturers and standardised course materials.
The Level II course is intended to train coaches for effective work with youth and beginner athletes.
Entry for the Level II is granted to successful and active Level I coaches.
The Level IV course builds on the experiences of Level III and can be thought of as the development of performance coaching, providing coaches with advanced level instruction in their chosen event group.
Perhaps the most important educational initiative in recent years to support the development of key personnel in athletics was the introduction of the IAAF academy in 2004, providing professional education of the highest level.
To achieve this the MSD has created partnerships with respected and recognised universities worldwide to offer courses which blend academic rigour in the sport sciences with the practical experiences of the most elite of IAAF experts.
The IAAF academy currently offers the following courses: (a) chief coach (b) youth chief coach (c) elite coach (head coach for events group) (d) coaching development director.
The academy aims to provide the coach with the relevant professional knowledge, understanding and practical experience to create an environment capable of delivering high levels of individual and team performance at specific events.