Thursday, April 25, 2024

‘Botswana has ample talent to shine in water sports’

Director of The Academy for Canoe Development, Phillip van Tonder, says Botswana has potential talent to make a mark in the canoeing and kayaking water sports.

Leader of the Pretoria based academy, van Tonder is regarded as the best in the continent and made the comment after taking the country’s aspiring canoeists through basic training this past weekend at the Gaborone dam.

Speaking in an interview, van Tonder, who was in the country to help kick start the country’s canoeing and kayaking teams prepare for the upcoming 2nd Africa Youth Games, said while water sport is not yet popular in the country, he has seen enough potential in the country’s aspiring canoeists and rowers to suggest that with proper training, the country has a bright future in water sports.

“What I have realised and observed during my time as a coach in South Africa is that while Africans are not exposed to water sport, they have huge talent for canoeing and I have seen the same thing here,” van Tonder said.

While not sure if the country can win any medals in water sports during the 2014 2nd Africa Youth Games, van Tonder said he was very impressed with the group he had worked with during his few days in the country, adding that they can do well during next year’s games, which will be hosted in Botswana.

While not sure if they can get on the medal podium considering it is only five months to go before the Africa Youth Games, van Tonder said with more training, the country’s athletes will put in a good enough performance ‘not to embarrass the country nor the athletes themselves.’

“What we have done over the past days in training camp has been largely basic and included finding balance. There is much more work to do and we at the Academy for Canoe Development are committed to helping as much as possible. While we will try as much as possible to come here, the best thing at the moment will be for these young athletes to come to the Academy in Pretoria frequently,” van Tonder said.

With no qualified coaches to guide the youngsters, van Tonder said a stint at the academy, ‘where there are many coaches,’ will be of much benefit for the youngster as it will also give them a chance to learn from the more accomplished athletes training at the academy.

“We already have accommodation and can provide equipment for the athletes. All that is needed is for arrangements to be made and the athletes to be transported to the academy where we can give them proper training,” the Director of The Academy for Canoe Development explained.

With the Pretoria based academy fully committed to the development of canoeing and kayaking in Botswana, the onus now lies with the athletes as well as the local sporting mother bodies and the local canoe controlling body. However, with the enthusiasm already shown by the aspiring athletes as well as the support shown by the Botswana National Olympic Committee (BNOC) and the local canoe mother body, van Tonder said he is hopeful proper arrangements will be made for the development of the sport in the country.

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