International Tennis Federation (ITF) coach, John Goede of Surinam, landed in St Vincent and the Grenadines to commence work on the development of a national sport structure for Tennis. The programme will be conducted over a four-month period though not consecutively.
Coach Goede will return home periodically while the local team assigned to work with him carries on the programme in his absence. This allows the coach to better evaluate the extent to which local ownership of the programme takes place and proves affective.
This is the first time that Tennis is the beneficiary of one of these longer coaching allocated by the National Olympic Committee.
Olympic Solidarity Programme
Olympic Solidarity is the development arm of the International Olympic Committee (IOC). One0third of the monies collected from the sale of television rights to the Olympic Games – Summer and Winter – are allocated to Olympic Solidarity for distribution to the National Olympic Committees around the world via several development programmes.
Over the years St Vincent and the Grenadines has accessed several programmes offered by Olympic Solidarity. All affiliates involved in sports that are on the Olympic Programme have received at least one of the programmes on offer by Olympic Solidarity through the NOC.
The main objective of the extended coaching programme by the IOC is therefore to allow NOCs to develop their national sports and coaching structure by implementing a mid to long-term action plan for a specific sport.
The current four-month programme involving John Goede is but one aspect of the options available to the NOCs.
The guidelines for the aforementioned programme stipulates that the action plan should include but not necessarily be limited to:
- Establishing with the National Federation concerned, coherent and realistic mid to long term development plans;
- Training of local coaches and/or persons susceptible to continue the work initiated by the expert once the project has ended;
- Improving the different training programmes for elite sport;
- Initiating projects for Sport for all and/or school sport;
- Putting in place talent identification programmes.
The preparation for the request to be made for the current programme for Tennis was not done solely by the local Tennis Association and the NOC. Rather, the NOC sought to involve the ITF’s Regional Development Officer who has responsibility for evaluating the development of the sport in the region.
The submission that came from the NOC to Olympic Solidarity sought to justify the important necessity for such an activity to be conducted here at this particular juncture as follows:
The current SVG Tennis organizational structure is one-tiered with a functioning Executive, which provides a full calendar of annual tournaments, maintains a national tennis facility, and is the governing body for Tennis. There is a vital need for a structured coaching hierarchy and by extension, a coordinated 5- year plan for the further development of the sport. Building a structure based on a national coach is viewed as an integral component to interface between the Executive and the development of the sport. While junior tennis players compete at a regional level, there is no consistency in training methodology and available training on a national level for elite players. Also required is a national coordinated, long-term grassroots and schools initiative program to ensure the continuity and viability of Tennis.
Utilising the guidelines of Olympic Solidarity and armed with the aforementioned background of Tennis in St Vincent and the Grenadines the submission for the programme indicated the projected, relevant action plan as follows:
Create a sub-committee from the Executive to liaise with the expert in coordinating a coaching hierarchy and a viable 5-year tennis developmental plan with realistic goals. The expert will determine the proficiency levels of the human resource pool of coaches and make recommendations as to the responsibilities and duties of a national coach. The expert should create various levels of developmental programs, including grassroots, school tennis initiatives and intermediate to elite juniors, as a starting point for a designated national coach to structure and implement.
The aforementioned plan requires some measure of commitment on the part of all involved. It is not easy to accomplish if we adopt an approach that this is the responsibility of only the Executive of the Tennis Association. On the other hand collective endeavour will yield handsome results.
The programme approved by Olympic Solidarity and the NOC places a certain amount of resources at the disposal of the Association to facilitate the commencement of this intensive programme. There is still need for additional resources however of it is to bear full fruit. This is merely the beginning.
The programme that has just started here is intended to yield some very positive outcomes:
The creation of a national Tennis coaching structure to deliver all levels of developmental training, planning and coordination of Tennis programs, and assist in the creation, implementation, and revision of a 5-year development plan. In addition, this structure should supplement training for intermediate to elite junior players to compete at the highest levels internationally.
Many may wonder who is this coach that has been assigned to conduct this course and about his credentials.
Coach John Goede is a graduate from the University of Surinam where he obtained a degree in Geography. His love for the sport of Tennis saw him commit to the sport by becoming an ITF Level #2 Umpire. He has been coaching for 32 years and became an ITF Level #2 Coach in 1998. He has his own John Goede Tennis School in Surinam and has attracted athletes from well beyond his local shores. His performance as a coach led to him being appointed an ITF Tutor/Expert. He has delivered more than 17 courses for coaches around the Caribbean.
Between 2001 and 2004 he served as Assistant Development Officer for the ITF in the Caribbean. In 2003 he conducted an Olympic Solidarity Course in Dominica and was Camp Director in the Bahamas in 2008.
During the years, 1996 to 2003 he served as the National Tennis Coach of Surinam. During the period, 1996 – 2004 he was STI Coordinator Suriname.
The ITF Development Officer for the Caribbean, Anthony Jeremiah, of Trinidad and Tobago, informed the NOC of the credentials of coach Goede for the particular programme being conducted at present. Indeed, he was at a meeting of the ITF in Europe discussing a number of development strategies for 2010 and beyond when Olympic Solidarity raised the matter of the St Vincent and the Grenadines course with the organisation..
At a coaching clinic held at the National Tennis Centre on Saturday last Vincentian players, coaches, officials, parents and enthusiasts got an insight into the approach being undertaken by coach Goede. There is no letting up, if he is allowed to go ahead as planned and there is no reason why this should not be the case
St Vincent and the Grenadines is blessed with an abundance of sporting talent. In the past this country was considered very good in the field of Tennis. Some of our top athletes were able to access Tennis scholarships to US Colleges where they not only honed their skills but also gained advanced education that enabled them to benefit from higher-level employment opportunities.
Several young players have emerged over the years and did well at the regional level. However, like so many of our athletes in other sports they have not gone on to excel at the senior level at the regional or international levels.
The same can be said of our Tennis coaches. While over the years many persons have been trained as coaches there seems an urgent need for coaching excellence. There are opportunities for further training of coaches and we must utilise them to the full.
Much of the Tennis coaching takes place in the urban areas of this country. By and large the rural areas are now well served with coaching personnel and the facilities – hard courts – provided are for use by many disciplines leaving little or no time for Tennis. Additionally, one does not get the impression that when the hard courts were being constructed that much thought was given to the requirements of Tennis.
While there was a time when the sport of Tennis was seen as the exclusive right of a select few much has changed and there are many who have come through the ranks of the sport as testimony to this reality.
The primary task now is to spread the sport across St Vincent and the Grenadines and the current Olympic Solidarity programme is designed in part to realise this objective. To achieve this however it is important for the undertaking to be seen as national in nature. All are expected to be on board – the Tennis Association, the government, the private sector, the media, coaches, technical officials, volunteers, parents and teachers.
Let us all hope that at the end of this coaching programme we can indeed see the emergence of a highly motivated Tennis fraternity fully committed to excellence in the sport.