Durban – South Africa’s Olympic body chief Gideon Sam insists South Africa is not falling behind in its coaching standards, but feels that administrative issues are key stumbling blocks for the country.
The SA Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc) president is in Durban, where the organisation is hosting a global coaches' conference in Umhlanga, north of the city, this week.
“We are not lagging behind with our coaching systems and methods,” he said on Wednesday.
“This country is endowed with coaches, but because we are probably not well co-ordinated and we do not bring our people together from time-to-time, we are falling behind other countries.”
The conference falls under the banner of the International Council for Coaching Excellence (ICCE), an international body with the mission of promoting coaching as a globally accepted profession.
It also strives to enhance the quality of coaching at every level of sport.
“For our administrators to rub shoulders at an event like this one is an opportunity,” Sam said.
“It’s a chance to listen to the president of the ICCE (John Bales) and mix with top administrators and coaches from across the world.
“They need to learn from this, go back home to their regions and implement a lot of what they will learn.”
South Africa recently returned from a disappointing World Athletics Championships in Moscow, where they claimed a single medal courtesy of Johan Cronje in the 1500 metres.
Sam said the country's performance in Russia had little to do with the coaching structure, but was down to poor administration.
“We all know what happened in Moscow,” he said.
“We sat and watched, but we know where the problem is.
“We have to sort out the administration of athletics in this country. We need to stop pointing fingers saying ‘it’s that one and that one’. It must be a collective.
“And I’m happy to see now that the athletes have formed a South Africa Athletes' Association and veterans have met in Bloemfontein.
“People like Elana Meyer, and they’ve said that as former athletes, this is what we’re going to do. That is the only way we’re going to help both the coaches and the athletes.”
During a presentation titled “Sport coaching in South Africa: progress and next steps” he also highlighted the vision to the next Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 2016.
“An effective, cohesive, inclusive and ethical coaching system that promotes transformation and excellence in an active and winning nation,” was his message.
Sam also highlighted the importance of the entire country’s provinces pooling their resources in an attempt to improve performances via more organised coaching programmes.
“There needs to be more structure from administrators,” Sam said.
“The one thing we must move away from is that when this country does badly at an international event, people need to stop criticising, especially when they know that they have knowledge they can share.
“If they don’t do that, it’s almost criminal to the dream of South Africa becoming a force in world sport.”
The three-day meeting in the coastal city, which is the ninth ICCE conference, ends on Friday. – Sapa