Sport Minister targets Elite Coaching for Elite Athletes

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By Akeem Greene

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The country’s first-ever Sport Academy is nearing its official launch in a few weeks and while the athletes will be the centre of attention, Minister of Culture, Youth and Sport, Charles Ramson Jr., has assured that plans are afoot to ensure the coaches are upskilled.

The coaching will form a key component to the Elite Training Programme of the Sport Academy, which is built on three pillars: Nursery, Tournaments and Elite Training.

The objective of the Elite Training for Elite Athletes is to “finesse” talents, the Minister explained at the historic Sport Conference on Saturday.

“What is important for you to understand is that this requires Elite Coaching; Elite Coaching is key here,” the Minister asserted.

“You are not going to be able to get in most instances and probably all instances, your nursery coaches or organisers to be your Elite Coaches.”

The Minister indicated that Elite Coaches in some cases will be actual players who are already successful in a particular sport or the coaches will come from overseas.

The Minister has also engaged with a number of Foreign Diplomats in order to get support for either the training of the Elite Coaches or for the Elite Coaches to come to Guyana and be part of the programme for that period.

“Upskilling is also an important part for our coaches and for that period when the Elite Training programme is undertaken, the Sport Associations and Federations have to appreciate this is a very serious part of how we are going to transform talent into that world-class talent.”

The Minister further stated, “There is a big jump in any sport from where you are good, but in order to get to the great level where you are recognised on a world-class level, there is a big jump you have to make.”

The Sport Academy is not a building, but rather a programme and the nursery will attract persons aged 12 to 25. The core disciplines, who will be given at least $1M to host tournaments annually, will then see their best players be placed into Elite Training Programmes.

Such programmes will be for a prolonged period (probably six-eight weeks) and the athletes will be given stipends to offset any expenses, as to allow their full dedication to the programme.

The 12 core sports identified by the Ministry are Squash, Track and Field, Cricket, Hockey, Basketball, Volleyball, Football, Lawn Tennis, Rugby, Badminton, Swimming and Table Tennis.

The core sports were identified based on the numbers who are engaged; the facilities the Ministry have that would be able to assist; and how easy it is accessible for young people to play.

Minister Ramson Jr. clarified that there is room for other disciplines to be added in the future.

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