Kids Triathlon Clinic in South Africa
In April, a group of 29 coaches from seven African countries gathered in Stellenbosch, South Africa to participate in a six-day coaching course. After working together, sharing ideas and learning, coaches in attendance had to create a short programme in their respective region as part of their course evaluation.
Douw Steyn and Dylan Campbell of South Africa along with a member of the local Zululand Multi-Sport Club, organized a clinic for novice athletes and young students between the ages 8 and 13 years old without prior experience in the sport of triathlon. It was an initiative aimed at encouraging and enhancing triathlon participation and competition on a local level. The focus was on skills development and fun activities around the sport of triathlon. Kids were also taught the correct use of all the equipment, procedures and safety rules.
The clinic, which was held at Grantleigh School was part of the Richards Bay Tri festival, with the main event being the Richards Bay BG Triathlon World Cup on May 13, 2007. The kids were able to watch some of the worlds best triathletes competing in the World Cup. Not only did they enjoy every moment of it, but they were able to understand more about triathlons and were inspired by seeing Hendrik De Villiers become the first African to win a World Cup race.
One of coaches goals was to educate and inspire each young boy and girl to be the best that they can be and are capable of achieving almost anything if they set their minds to it. They also wanted to encourage and motivate the schools to support and provide opportunities for students to participate in triathlons, making it part of a healthy lifestyle.
The huge success of the clinic was due to the contribution by all the staff and their passion which made it enjoyable for all the athletes. ITU Director of Sport Development Libby Burrell was head coach with Steyn and Campbell acting as assistant coaches. Sean Dalton was also on hand as the local clinic coordinator and organiser as well as Loy de Jager, a volunteer athlete.
The kids walked away from the clinic with new-found enthusiasm to pursue triathlons and with high hopes to get involved in the future. Additional clinics around Africa are expected in the coming months so more opportunities will be available for kids from Africa who wouldnt otherwise have the chance to learn about triathlon.
The evaluation system for our ITU Coach Education courses require that coaches to go into their communities and present triathlon camps and clinics, said Burrell. The results have been amazing and this programme, presented along with the Richards Bay World Cup, is just one of many that have arisen out of the recent coaching course held in Africa. The value of educating coaches can never be underestimated and in time hopefully it will impact very positively on the growth of the sport in Africa.