Namibia: Athletics Camp Continues Despite Obstacles

Despite restrictions due to Covid-19 and a dearth of sponsors, the Quinton Steele Botes Athletics Coaching Course was once again successfully staged in Windhoek last week.

Due to Covid-19 restrictions only 50 people were allowed to participate at any time at the clinic which was held at the WAP field at Wanderers for the first time, due to the poor state of the normal venue at Windhoek's Independence Stadium.

Furthermore, a lack of sponsors led to the withdrawal of top coaches from South Africa who had attended the course over the years, with only Charley Strohmenger and Roger Haitengi attending this year.

As such the turnout was not as high as in previous years, with about 100 athletes participating, but this also afforded them an opportunity to receive more intensive coaching, as organiser Leonie van Rensburg explained.

"We only had about 100 participants compared to about 250 in the past, but it was good, because now they received more specialised coaching. With the Covid-19 regulations we were only allowed to have 50 athletes at a time, so we split it up with the junior coaching sessions in the morning and the senior sessions in the afternoon," she said.

"Our main sponsor withdrew in December due to Covid-19, but we still had some smaller sponsors and although it was not easy, we managed to host the training camp. It was the 28th consecutive year that it took place and now our aim is to reach 30 years," she added.

Young up and coming athletes from as far afield as Grootfontein and Keetmanshoop attended the camp, which also included top Namibian coaches like Sherwin Vries, Henk Botha, Godfrey Tsowaseb, Walter Dorn-Schnirring and Jasper Engelbrecht, while other up and coming coaches made use of the opportunity to gain extra knowledge.

One of them, the boxing referee and coach Patrick Esterhuizen said he had learned a lot.

"This was my first athletics coaching course, and I attended because I want to expand my knowledge of coaching and sport in general. I learnt a lot from Charley and Sherwin, especially with regard to sprinting techniques. They don't only focus on speed - they have a deeper philosophy that sprinting is about expressing that technique and making it look good, because at the end of the day sport is also an art," he said.

"These guys are top class coaches with a lot of knowledge and I'm looking forward to incorporating some of these skills into my boxing drills," he added.

Strohmenger, who is a top international long jump coach, having worked with Olympic squads in South Africa, the Netherlands and Turkey, said it was a great course.

"This is a super course that Quinton Steele Botes started and there are too few of them in the world. It's quite unique and we don't have such a course in South Africa," he said, adding that the participants hunger for knowledge and willingness to learn made it all worthwhile.

"They have an absolute passion for the sport and they are like my own people. I started coaching here in 1998 and except for a five-year spell when I coached abroad, I've kept on coming back," he said, adding that the more specialised coaching this year had immediate benefits.

"Here is a lot of talent, but they just need proper structures. In the past everyone was on the same level and we couldn't reach all the different levels, but now we reached all the participants and I can already see the difference in the athletes over these few days. I'll definitely come back for as long as I can," he said.

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