The secret behind a successful youth coaching pilot in Kween

Usually we are struggling to find motivated and committed sports coaches. Coaches who love to learn, work together and groom the young generation. But during our ‘youth sports coach’ pilot in Kapkoch, Kween, we had the pleasure to work together with a highly motivated and united group of youth leaders. In this blog we reveal the secret of this success, as a good practice towards the future.

In Kween District we are working together with a small group of adult sports coaches: Martin, Felista, Davis and Moses. United under the Community-based Organization ‘Community Sports Union Kween’ (CSUK). These coaches are passionate about talent identification and development at the grassroots and as From Coach to Coach we have been supported them through various workshops, coaching courses such as Coaches Across Continents and Cradle Sports in Kampala and by boosting Community sports events. Though our coaches have tried their best to implement the acquired skills during events and trainings, it is hard for them to serve the hundreds of children who are awaiting challenging sports activities. In Sebei region it is not common to find adults who are willing to invest time and energy in training the younger generation. In another Community we learned that youth in the age bracket of 16 to 22 years seem to be more motivated to train their younger brothers and sisters. Maybe because they are still active athletes themselves and they are yearning for exposure and opportunities? Or simply because they are part of a different generation with more focus on learning? Anyhow, because of these observations we developed the idea, together with our volunteer Rinske (sports & education practitioner), to organize a pilot ‘youth sports coach’ course: an interactive series of workshops that learn our youth to teach fun and educative games to young children of 6 to 15 years of age and that can help the youth leaders themselves to develop a leadership role in their Community. As From Coach to Coach team it has been a way to learn ‘what works best’ in coaching the coaches of the future!

Surprising and active start

In our first workshop most of our participants arrived late. This is not uncommon in Sebei region. We almost decided to reject the late-comers from entering the training, but because the number of ‘in time’ participants was so low, we decided to give them a warning and chance to improve a next time. We explained time management is a form of respect towards your coaches but also towards each other. This turned out to be a good decision: the second time all of the youth were present in time.

Talk less, act more

Most of our adult coaches tend to talk long in giving instructions, which leads to a shorter playing time for our kids. Leaded by our volunteer Rinske we therefore set an active pace from the beginning: short talks, followed by action, action, short reflection/correction and action. This allowed the group to interact in a free and fun way. Popular games were ‘boom, boom, boom’ (iemand is ‘m, niemand is ‘m in Dutch), ‘head and catch’ and the human knot. What helped in talking less and acting more is that we emphasized and repeated the importance of ‘picture, talk & action’ in your instruction: show participants what to do, explain briefly the rules and then immediately go to play the game.

Strict values and ground rules 

From the beginning of the workshop series we emphasized on some few ground values and rules. Besides ‘time management’ this is for example about ‘keeping quiet when the coach talks’ and obeying the rules of the game. We have been strict on living up to these rules. It seems that this approach set the ground for a disciplined playing arena with mutual respect between coaches and participants.

Give space to creative leaders

What is often observed in our region is that everyone wants to lead at the same time. Though this happens from good intentions, it often leads to a loss of coordination and confusion amongst participants. In this group of Kween youth leaders we found an interesting combination of friendship / team spirit (letting each other participate) and space for natural leaders to stand up. We think it helped that we gave the youth leaders a lot of responsibility: in this way they got the space and challenge to give in their best. What stood out was the creativity of the youth leaders. They were able to adapt the rules to the level of the children and were flexible in the use of available materials.

Build trust

Rinske has developed a manual with 20 teamwork games that can help to build trust amongst the youth and their coaches. Some games require a higher level of trust than other games. Because of the friendship and mutual respect & acceptance between the youth leaders, we were able to play all games (also the ones that require a high level of trust). These games helped us a lot to take the youth to even higher levels of teamwork.

Heart for the young ones

On the last day we gave the youth leaders the assignment to prepare and organize a fun sports activity for their younger brothers and sisters. To our surprise they mobilized a large number of kids (around 80). A simply wonderful moment was when we heard that the youth leaders went to the homes of these kids, on the evening before, to announce the event and on the morning of the event they went back to the homes to get the kids out of their beds!:) It shows that this group of youth leaders simply has the love for sports and the younger generation. Promising!

Build muscles

To the Dutch facilitators (Daan & Rinske) an unexpected outcome was that youth leaders said they first and for all benefited from the training because it ‘builds our muscles’. The fact is that we never intended to give a body workout. Our intention is more on the side of teaching games and building soft skills such as team work, communication and trust. Nevertheless, we added more muscle strengthening exercises to our warming-up because it is important adapt a program to the needs of participants.

Are you interested to learn more about our project? Or do you have more ideas on how to empower the youth? Leave a comment below!

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