SA sports stars get expert briefing on life after sport | SASCOC - SASCOC

SA sports stars get expert briefing on life after sport

A successful life after sport… that’s what some of South Africa’s Olympic and Paralympian athletes gathered to discuss at Stellenbosch University on Tuesday.

The day-long workshop was part of the Athletes Career Programme (ACP) and was jointly hosted by national Olympic governing body SASCOC and the E for Exec Professional HR Services form.

Tuesday’s event was the first of two such gatherings, the second taking place in Sandton, Gauteng on Wednesday, 6 November.

Among the high-profile athletes who attended were Olympic sailors Asenathi Jim and Roger Hudson and triathlete Richard Murray.

A large Paralympic contingent was also present, among them London 2012 gold medallists Ilse Hayes and Arnu Fourie as well as fellow medallists, Dyan Buis, Anrun├® Liebenberg and Fanie van der Merwe.

The meeting was opened by SASCOC Board Member Kobus Marais, and there was also a message from the SASCOC Athletes Commission’s Emile Smith.

Facilitated by Patrick Glennon of the Addeco Group the keynote address was delivered by Claudia Bokel, chairperson of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Athletes Commission.

Said Marais: “A high performance athlete’s sporting career can end so very quickly. Our athletes simply have to think about the first day after their last competitive event. Sure, they may earn lots of money during their competitive years but we can’t afford to see icons of SA sport struggling to look after themselves.

“Remember, most sports careers are over at the age of 35, yet the average person works till they are 70 years of age. So in reality, one’s sports career is but a drop in the bucket. From SASCOC’s perspective it’s imperative that we support athletes empowering themselves in the workplace. Knowledge and skills are power.”

For her part Bokel, a former world fencing champion and Olympic silver medallist, said the IOC “didn’t want to see athletes dissapearing into a black hole”.

Bokel, took up her position as head of the IOC Athletes Commission after Namibian Olympic silver medal-winning track sprinter, Frankie Fredericks had previously served in the same position.

“You athletes here are lucky to have SASCOC backing you in this opportunity and we all want our athletes to have careers after sport. Sporting values and life skills are indeed sought after by companies but some times athletes aren’t aware that they already have the skills to success in the work place.”

“Athletes do what they love and they will miss it later in life. Ideally we would like sports people to find something they will love equally after their sporting career, even though it may be something completely different to what they are used to.”

During the workshop athletes were required to interact with each other to learn more about life skills, teamwork, networking abilities and also received assistance in the line of curriculum vitaes and interviewing skills.

Athletes present were grateful for the opportunities presented. Said Paralympics gold medallist Hilton Langenhoven: “It’s great to get more of an understanding of life after sport. There is lots of stuff one can take out of a day like this. I’m already a local ambassador for a Norwegian organisation that works with school kids and today’s information will help me share my skills going forward.”

Sailor Jim said: “It’s very interesting to meet other sports people from other different codes and hear their ideas of careers after sport. Roger [Hudson] is already mentoring me about life after sport but this all adds to that knowledge.”

Last word to Hayes: “Today provoked a lot of soul-searching for me and there’s a lot of stuff I can take out. It’s about finding a balance between your passion and your strengths. After sport I want to work with people but I also want to be creative and this session really helped.”