The German track and field expert, Oliver Scheer, says he was impressed by the quality of work put forth by the Botswana Athletics Association (BAA) in its endeavors to develop the sport in the country.
The expert, who specializes in youth development and coaches’ education, travelled the country over the past three weeks to look at the work undertaken by the BAA in sports development as well as to help develop coaches and teachers.
Speaking in an interview, Scheer said his three weeks stay in the country showed him how far the BAA has gone to develop athletes in the country. The German expert, however, said while impressive work has been done in athletics development, there is still a lot of work to do at the grassroots if Botswana is to continue producing athletes in the mould of Amantle Montsho and Nijel Amos, something which he said must be looked into.
“My objective when coming into Botswana was to look at the current structure of development and identify potential and also to come up with a strategy of how to achieve this,” Scheer told Standard Sport.
According to Scheer, while there is already a system in place for athletics development in the country, there are some modifications which need to be undertaken to ensure that the athletics’ long term athlete development plan successfully takes off. He said one of the main areas that need to be looked at included that of coaches at the grassroots, adding that how the teachers and coaches at the grassroots undertake their work can ‘make or break potential future athletes.’
He said that, with the grassroots development being the base on which to reform the peak in athletics development, it is important that a lot of focus be given to grassroots coaches and teachers. He said the way people at the grassroots handle kids can either attract them to sport or chase them away, hence the need to focus there.
“Kids love to play and have fun. That is the only way they can be attracted to sports. The most important thing when dealing with them is to let them enjoy playing and to motivate them. Whether they run, throw or jump, they must not feel like they are training, but should rather have fun. It is this aspect of letting them enjoy and play that will attract them to sport,” Scheer explained.
In regards to athletics training at the grassroots, the German expert said athletics is one of the physical foundations of sports development and, if made to be fun, can help in attracting kids to athletics.
Meanwhile, Scheer said while in the country, he has helped the BAA formulate a long term athletics development plan, which he said if followed properly can help Botswana have competitive athletes in future. With the plan’s focus starting at the grassroots development, Scheer said the time period for the plan to produce an elite athlete is 15 ÔÇô 16 years, meaning if the plan is implemented next year, the country will start benefiting in 2028.
During his three weeks stay in the country, the German expert visited various districts where he coached development coaches and teachers as well as engaged in training with young kids.