By Carlos Kambaekwa
All is certainly not lost for Athletic Namibia – the embattled discipline has scored another off the pitch victory.
Former sprinter Abraham So-Oabeb is the proud recipient of the International Athletics Federation (IAAF) Level Five Academy Diploma for Development Directors, after he underwent an intensive course at the reputable Kenyatta University in Nairobi earlier this month.
The eleven-day course dealt with six fundamentals including Elite Coaching, the role of Chief Coach, Coaching Development Director, Performance Management and Development Management.
The long term goals of the IAAF Coaches Educational & Certification System (CECS) is to ensure that each country has sufficient coaches, qualified according to international standards, to enable its athletics programmes to function as effectively as possible.
It also seeks to ensure that each region, and in turn, each country is eventually capable of educating its own coaches to the same international standards without dependence on outside resources.
The additional objectives includes the provision of competence, knowledge and understanding of the theory and practice of athletics to coaches in order to equip them to provide opportunities for all athletes regardless of age, gender, race or ability to reach their full potential and to foster the ethical and moral development of coaches.
Furthermore, the primary aim is to provide a standard curriculum with a worldwide application leading to a professional qualification for coaches and to make an appropriate contribution to the development of athletics in each community, while respecting the values of that particular community as well as to increase opportunities for women to become certified in the field of athletics coaches.
The IAAF also wants to make Athletics the “number one sport in all schools around the world by the year 2012”.
Implementation of New CECS Structure
The change from any system to a new system requires the management of change with ongoing evaluation of quality and progress. It will involve all partners to ensure that new CECS participants are catered for during the change without ignoring the legacy and needs of existing CECS qualified coaches.
This management of change will be applied in a balanced manner to each level of the new system, reflecting the fact that the workforce and requirements of a five-level system are substantially different from those of a three-level structure.
Additionally, the implementation has to embrace the translation of all materials at each level into languages of the CECS: English, French, Spanish, Arabic, Chinese, Russian and Portuguese.
As of beginning of this year, there was no longer any need to prefix any course as new IAAF CECS. Reference is now simply made to CECS Level One through CECS Level Five, the Academy. The pre-2007 CECS Level One will however remain in place until the end of this year.
During this legacy, transitional period throughout the year, this course will be referred to as the “Old CECS Level One” course. From January next year, the change to the new system will be complete and the process of transfer of coaches from the old CECS qualifications to the new can commence.
All coaches who are active will require transfer from their existing qualification and eligibility to the new structure and subsequently informed of their new status. The global transfer date is set for the 1st of January 2009.
One of the added benefits of this transfer process is the potential to identify and increase the skills of coaches who are actively coaching but stuck at an old CECS Level. The new system provides the opportunity for all active coaches to re-engage with the Coach Development Pathway, benefiting their coaching, their athletics and National Federations.
Quizzed as to how he plans to implement his knowledge in domestic athletics, So-Oabeb said: “It’s a collective effort, and I’ll have to sit down with all stakeholders ranging from the Sports Commission, the Olympic Committee, Athletics Namibia, National Schools Sports Union and the Tertiary Institutions of Sports for Namibia (TISAN) to map the way forward. We first have to identify talented teachers whom we can train to become trainers.”
However, So-Oabeb expressed concern over continuity as athletes sometimes struggle with the adoption of new environments. “When athletes change location we must ensure that the same training methods are applied within their new environment. The Cubans have been using the Transfer System effectively and we must consider ourselves very lucky to have Cuban coaches around here.”
Namibia currently has 52 qualified coaches in track and field events with 34 of them on Level One while 17 are on Level Two. So-Oabeb is the only coach in the higher bracket.