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Coping With Covid-19

With sport having come to a standstill around the world given the impact of the Covid-19, the repercussions have been wide and damaging. We spoke to a number of members of the South African Sports Coaching Association (SASCA) to ask how the pandemic was affecting them and their work.

The Olympics is only one of many sporting events that have been postponed, with the Tokyo Games now pushed back for a year to 21 July 2021, if the world recovers in time that is. Here’s what some had to say.

Neil MacPherson (cycling): “There’s been a drop in income and activity. The challenges have arrived in the manner and content of coaching and training and athlete goal races have been cancelled, we’re having to remotivate and plan.”

Reg Sharp (netball): “It has been a God-given opportunity for self-reflection, reprioritising things, family time and an opportunity to catch up on work both personal and corporate long outstanding. I’ve reset and found a different way of doing my work. As a full-time netball coach preparing for the winter season, all direct team and skills training is on hold but physical fitness and conditioning continues with WhatsApp home-based sessions given to the players daily for completion and return.”

Fran Hilton-Smith (football): “Probably not as much as others, from a professional perspective. I work online most of the time, communicating with various WhatsApp groups we have created for women football coaches, which include South Africa, COSAFA and Africa as a whole. I recently conducted Instructors courses for women coaches in Africa (held in Egypt) and then specifically for COSAFA women coaches. We communicate with all women’s National team coaches and High Performance Coaches, sharing the latest information.”

Anneline Lewis (netball): “The immediate effect is that many coach education sessions have had to be cancelled or postponed indefinitely. The positive is that everybody stuck in the ‘rat race’ can give attention to the administrative side of the work and to assist coaches with much needed mentoring!”

Anthony Heugh (rugby): “We have a lot of coaches that still need to be trained in our WR programmes before they can apply for a designation, and with the virus it is impossible to address that need that is out there. I must work with WR level 3 coaches and travelling is not allowed and it means that most of those individuals who started the programme last year, if there is not a full season this year, will only be able to complete the programme next year. That will also impact on job opportunities for them.

Size Vardhan (volleyball): “It has provided me with the opportunity to review and evaluate where I am and to re-calibrate. As far as coaching is concerned. I miss this because while I have tried to make every effort to coach the individuals remotely, team sport is different.”

Harry Shapiro (cricket): “Most of my work is coaching cricket and working with coaches at their workplace so the effect has been devastating without the face-to-face interaction.”

Rosemarie Bartlett (equestrian): “On a personal level, being apart from the family is difficult, but we maintain daily contact through WhatsApp. On a professional basis, ithas forced us to think out of the box, adapt to change in the immediate future. The present challenges have encouraged me as a leader to be innovative, collaborate with others, use technology to offer a better product and to be resilient in seeing how the future is going to benefit from the present challenges.”

Rob Holden (sailing): “It’s had a huge effect. I run coach development internationally and coach Olympic level at events, so events and courses have been cancelled and postponed and even though we are speaking regularly with athletes they are not motivated. The postponed Olympics has had a major impact all plans and programmes must change but under lockdown this is not possible. Most sailors can’t get to the water to train so it is not good.”