Coaching: Not just an ‘on paper’ job but a key cog in the wheel

The country’s apex sporting body announced today that it has employed 11 Olympic and three Paralympic athletes as coaches. It makes me wonder why.

Decisions such as these expose the depth in rationalizing, or the lack thereof, within the system. It is important to note that the Sports Authority of India (SAI) press release acknowledges that some of these athletes are still pursuing their competitive career.Is giving them responsibilities as “coaches” the only way to keep them associated with the sport?

The country’s apex sporting body announced today that it has employed 11 Olympic and three Paralympic athletes as coaches. It makes me wonder why.

Eight of the appointments are of those who participated in Rio Olympic Games 2016. What makes these better suited to be employed as coaches than the other 118+ in the contingent? By the reasoning given, shouldn’t all of them be employed as coaches too, so they can be “associated with sports throughout their professional careers and even after they retire?

This leads us to more questions. Do these athletes actually want to be actively involved as coaches? Why would they refuse a job, if they don’t have to work? But, is that ethical? More importantly, is SAI not denying someone who could actually make a difference in the position?

To be honest, I do not have the answers but I find this decision unfair and questionable. I hope SAI realises that there is a need to develop an ecosystem for its elite athletes not create differences in the contingent through bias like the current example highlights. I also hope it finds a way to employ active coaches and enable their learning so can contribute and make a difference to the quality.

Not just on paper. 

If one is not an elite athlete, does that mean one cannot be a good coach? And, if one has been a brilliant athlete, does it mean he/she will most definitely be an amazing coach?

I have had the good fortune of meeting amazing coaches from Europe, USA and Asia who never competed at the highest level, but produced great athletes. Of course, I havs also met those who competed at the highest level and became coaches to give back to the sport. Coaching is a commitment, not a confused gesture.

Any coach who works with passion will tell you how much one learns from other coaches, and would like to learn and improve. Do we have such opportunities in India? Are we ever going to start looking at the macro picture?  

A certification is most usually only a piece of paper. The knowledge one derives on the job and while observing other coaches and continually improving and upping the game is an essential part of the responsibility.

I will leave you to think where we stand. But I believe it is time to introspect and bring in a system that focuses on the sports ecosystem. Not just on paper.

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