Having the right mentality, the ability to balance schoolwork, training and competing, knowledge of your sporting discipline, good nutrition practices and exposure to more sporting meets were mentioned as keys to success at a National Athletes’ Forum held today at the Wildey Gymnasium Auditorium.
Athletes were able to raise their concerns and share suggestions on improving their various disciplines as well as receive advice and responses to queries at the forum which was hosted by the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Community Empowerment.
Along with Ministry officials, the athletes were able to hear from Ambassador Obadele Thompson, Leah Martindale-Stancil and Coach Glen Mills from Jamaica who joined the session via the Zoom online platform.
Ambassador Thompson and Ms. Stancil underscored that even with access to all the right resources to help develop one’s talent, if the individual didn’t have the right mentality and approach to their discipline, wasn’t invested and motivated to do their part, there wasn’t much else coaches, parents or governments could do to help them be successful.
“We need you to develop your mind, develop your ability to execute and develop your confidence by becoming more attuned to what you’re doing…. when it’s all said and done as an athlete you really have to become a student of your sport, of your event,” Ambassador Thompson stated.
Echoing his sentiments was Ms. Stancil who said: “The resources are yes ideal, they are important, yes it will help in getting the country at a higher level, but at the end of the day, it’s you the athlete that has to have that mentality and that drive to do well…. Be courageous enough to step out of your comfort zone and compete in places where you know people are better…, that’s only going to get you better, winning isn’t everything but winning helps, but winning isn’t everything.”
Both “Oba” and Leah advised the athletes to be on time for practice, eat well, learn all that they could about their discipline, say thank you to those who were assisting in their development and find ways mentally to overcome life stressors.
Sharing nuggets on how Jamaica develops its athletes was Coach Mills who highlighted that there was a strong grassroots programme within the educational system from primary to secondary schools and a lesser extent tertiary, which included having at least one qualified coach helping to develop students.
He said the programme was “75 per cent based on the passion that is generated by both the teachers, coaches and the youngsters who are motivated by the performance of our sports heroes over the years”.
In addition, he noted that, the country hosts several meets during the year in particular the yearly championship where between 300 to 500 athletes out of approximately 2,500 are recruited based on their performances, and their talent is developed within the primary school with finances from the Government and within the secondary schools by sponsorship from the private sector.
Minister of Youth, Sports and Community Empowerment, Charles Griffith disclosed that the Government of Barbados is hoping to develop a sports bilateral relationship with the Government of Jamaica where athletes from Barbados could have the opportunity to participate in a scholarship programme, where they could study and train in Jamaica.