On 2 and 3 of November 2020 Special Olympics Bharat, supported by Herbalife Nutrition, organized webinars that aimed to advance the Special Athletes to assume the role of a Coach Assistant, thereby further contributing towards both on and off-field development of the athletes. The two days held sport-specific orientation across 13 disciplines extended by the Resource persons to about 130 Special Athletes who are the potential Coach Assistants as well as the Coaches under whose mentorship they would be placed. The sessions witnessed the distinguished presence of Air Marshal Keelor, Founder & CEO SO Bharat, Ms Ronak Lakhani, Advisory Committee Member, Special Olympics International.
The Webinars were preceded by four sessions held in the months of September and October that explicated the roles of the three key stakeholders in this endeavour- the Athlete who would be trained to be a Coach Assistant, the Coach who would train him or her and the Resource Person who the Coach would turn to for relevant consultations. This training program is an initiative of Mr Victor R Vaz, National Sports Director, SO Bharat, in collaboration with Mr Coen Van Putten, Manager Sports, SOAP (Asia Pacific) and Mr Jeff Lahart, Coach Development Specialist, Special Olympics International.
“I understand the role of an Athlete as against that of a Coach Assistant. I am now getting ready to take on the role of planning for the team- be it Coordination, Competitive strategies and more. I am confident that I will do it well” says Mihir Soni, a 25 year Athlete from Mumbai (Maharashtra), and a Softball team player from the LA World Summer Games 2015.
“This program will allow leadership to blossom. It is the greatest program for Athletes. We, as Coaches and Trainers have always wanted to upgrade the Athletes meaningfully. Now, this program will grant it a structure, make the Athletes set goals for themselves and witness their own growth. It will create expanded awareness and positivity” adds Mr Sundaresh, National Trainer from Karnataka.
Mr Victor Vaz’s vision is to have the Athletes take a lead in the sports field, in future. He believes there is every possibility of a Coach Assistant to turn into a Coach, with the right guidance and support.