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Coach Belen helping empower continent’s coaches

Nineteen coaches from around South Africa spent Easter weekend honing their coaching skills at the Sasol Wheelchair Basketball Technical Excellence Coaching Programme, at Mandeville, near Johannesburg.

Coaching instructor Franck Belen, who is also the head coach of the Sasol-sponsored national senior men’s wheelchair basketball team, said that the course, which covered areas including medical, hygiene, warm-up and warm-down techniques, wheelchair basketball equipment maintenance, and on-court match situation exercises, was the first of many to be held as part of a four-year plan to develop and empower coaches on the continent.

Other areas covered during the coaches course included knowing how to structure a practice, knowing the basic rules of the sport and understanding the role of Wheelchair Basketball SA and the International Wheelchair Basketball Federation.

”With the Sasol SA national senior men’s team set to compete in the six nation international tournament in Agadir, Morocco, from 8-15 June, this creates another platform for a leg of the coaches course to be held in that country, so the knowledge can be spread well beyond the borders of South Africa,” said Belen.

”The course covers a wide range of elements so that when the participants go home to rural or urban areas, they will be able to apply the knowledge to young athletes who wish to be as competitive as possible in the sport of wheelchair basketball.”

Following several national team training camps held this year, at which the coach has been able to access a large number of players invited to trials, a shortlist of 20 players is being formed from which the team to compete in Morocco will be selected.

”The key focus for 2014 has been to create a squad of depth from which a winning formula can be developed, so that the Sasol SA national senior team can compete and achieve success at next year’s Paralympic qualifying matches,” said Belen.

”A lot of the national team’s experienced players retired from the sport after the 2012 London Paralympics, and we are in a team re-building process with an eye towards the 2016 Rio Paralympics. Right now, the training camps have been of more value than playing international fixtures, as we look to build the confidence of several new faces on the fringe of team selection.”

The South African team is currently ranked 12th in the world and second on the African continent.

Sasol CA Sponsorship Specialist Dumisani Mbokane said that wheelchair basketball is an action-packed sports package, condusive to family fun and entertainment, which Sasol, as a sponsor of the national senior men’s team, has been involved with since 2007.

”Wheelchair Basketball SA needs to be commended for taking the initiative to roll out the Sasol Wheelchair Basketball Technical Excellence Coaching Programme which will benefit many aspiring coaches across the country,” said Mbokane.

”Following the trip to Morocco, the Sasol SA senior men’s team will host France in July this year, and we look forward to witnessing the South African sports-loving public coming out in support of the home side for this four-Test series.”


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