Our talent identification process utilises and optimises the school’s available talent. This motivates those students not currently participating in any form of physical activity by highlighting their strengths and abilities. Talented athletes are nurtured and guided through programmes that are aimed at developing their current and future athletic potential.
Through anthropometrical and biometrical tests, which allow us to determine physical traits like stamina and explosiveness as well as height, we are able to identify particular sports – or positions within a favourite sport – that best suits each student. Armed with this knowledge we design specific coaching programmes to focus on their natural potential.
By mass testing all of a school’s students we determine things like identifying the pool of football players that the school will have in a number of years or whether their long distance running team will maintain or improve their current results based on the potential of the students available to the team in future years.
This process of talent identification utilises and optimises the school’s available talent as well as motivating those students not currently participating in any form of physical activity through highlighting their strengths and abilities.
What happens with talented athletes?
Talented athletes are put on to a programme developed by our sports scientists. This individual programme is aimed at developing the student’s current and future athletic potential. Their training is supervised by our coaches and coordinators, who monitor and evaluate the athlete’s progress daily. They maintain daily contact with the sports scientist assigned to the student.
After a period of six months, further tests are conducted and the top 100 individuals are brought together for a one-week period. During their stay at Ingwenyama Lodge (Mpumulanga), which has accommodation and all the necessary facilities on site, the athletes undergo a full biomechanical, skills and anthropometrical assessment. The programme developed from these results is designed to take the athlete to the level where they are ready to be introduced to the relevant unions and/or franchise.
All coaches attend this training week where they are instructed in the methods necessary to monitor and evaluate the athletes in their care.
Our Talent Identification programme has only been running since mid-2008. In this short time we have changed the lives of four children. We identified three talented rugby players in the Mooi River area; they are now within the Sharks Rugby Union. A talented athlete from the Free State emerged from our programme. He is now running long distance for the Province and has been included in the Province’s training and coaching structure.
Through partnerships with schools, coaches, sport scientists and various organisations, like UNICEF, we are able to reach more and more children. In addition to bringing regular activity and wellness to the lives of these children, our Talent Identification programme positively changes the lives of children with talent.
TALENT IDENTIFICATION IN RURAL SOUTH AFRICA
Our involvement with UNICEF’s Sport for Development* programme and SuperSport’s Let’s Play initiative has brought our Talent Identification programme to children in South Africa’s rural areas. These partnerships have aided our goal of bringing regular physical education to as many South African children as possible. We currently reach 50,000 children a week and we assessing an incredible 20,000 children a year through biometrical tests!
As a result of our extensive exposure to schools throughout South Africa, we have developed physical averages for children aged 10, 11, 12 and 13 as well as norms for 14, 15 and 16 year olds. Due to our wide range of exposure, our averages encompass rural and urban, private and government schools.
This rural aspect of our Talent Identification programme targets raw talent. Identified athletes are placed on on supportive programmes that develop them to a level from where they can become elite athletes.
Our objective is to identify talented individuals at the age of 10 and to gently nurture them in their favoured sport. They train with our local Active Education coaches, who liaise regularly with our sports scientists on their progress. Each athlete’s programme is individually crafted according to the results of their biometric and anthropometrical measurements, general fitness test and skill assessments.
* Sport for Development was launched in early 2008 with the input of the Department of Education and support from UNICEF. Learner safety at school has made headlines and with this in mind the Department of Education identified 585 of the most vulnerable/troubled schools in the country. Specific interventions were identified to reduce the social vulnerabilities of the learners in these schools. One of these interventions is sport and how sport can be used to transform vulnerable schools into places of improved learning where learners receive a better quality of education.
Sport is not self contained and separate from educational, health and social issues. Sport enriches the lives of its participants and of the community as a whole. It is an outlet for their creativity and self expression, which they may not have through work and their domestic duties. It has a value beyond pure monetary and utilitarian measures. It is also a source of national identity and pride. Sport and recreation are important in tackling health issues; a lack of physical activity is a main risk factor for heart disease and for type 2 diabetes.
Children and young people need a balanced education both mental and physical. The potential exists through recreation and sport to develop young people’s ethical perspectives resulting in responsible citizenship.