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Athletes explore career opportunities after the sports field

 South African athletes gathered at Olympic House, Johannesburg on Tuesday, 31 March to learn more about the professional opportunities available after sport in the fourth edition of the Athletes Career Programme (ACP).

 The South African ACP was inaugurated in 2013. Tuesday’s meeting was hosted by national Olympic governing body SASCOC and the E for Exec Professional HR Services, and was beneficial to all the athletes who were in attendance as it explored their career paths after the sports field.

Amongst the athletes were 2014 Commonwealth Games, Glasgow gymnast Kirsten Beckett, gold and bronze medallists, Zack Piontek (judo), Mpho Madi (wrestling) and Siyabulela Mabulu (judo) respectively.  Johan Cronje (athletics) bronze medallist in the 1500m at the 2013 world athletics championships, Bernard Esterhuizen (cycling) former junior world 1000m gold medallist, Samantha McIntosh (equestrian) bronze medallist in the team competition at the 2010 Youth Olympic Games, gymnast Grace Legote, Von Zeuner Kohne a multiple World Cup medallist in shooting and Oswald Kydd (triathlon) a para World Triathlon Championship winner.

In his opening speech, Fanie van der Merwe, a two-time Paralympian who won gold in the T37 100m final at the London Paralympics in 2012, said: “As an athlete you overcome a lot of challenges which makes it easier for you to be employable. As athletes, time management is a very significant attribute, which similarly, is required in the workplace as well.

“I studied a BA in Sport Science Degree and currently I’m a coach, which will make it easier for me to pursue my career after I retire in sport. We all have talents so let’s use them to create or advance our careers after sport,” van de Merwe added.

The workshop also highlighted that when athletes achieve success in sport, it is because of hard work, the high skills demonstrated, values that are applied when training and competition to mention but a few. These same aspects are transferrable from sport to the rest of the athletes’ lives including their career life.

Says SASCOC Team Preparation and Academy Manager, Yoliswa Lumka: “The session was successful in that it taught the athletes how to focus on their sporting careers now, and also gave them guidelines on what they have to start doing to get ready for life after professional sport.

“The diverse nature of this group made the session even more valuable as they could learn from athletes of different codes, who sometimes face different challenges,” added Lumka.

E for Exec managing Director, Tracy Hardy added: “Transitioning from one position to another in life is difficult for most, but for an athlete the transition from sport to work is considered to be so vast and intimidating. Through the E4E ACP, athletes realise they have an abundance of competencies and traits that are easily transferrable from sport to work as we know it, and this helps to not only ease the apprehension as to their future, but arms them with the skills and abilities to maximise their employment opportunities.”

The athletes were enthusiastic about the various topics that were discussed and were involved in various team and individual work during the session.

Says Commonwealth Games wrestling bronze medallist Madi: “This workshop has taught me that there is life after my sports career. I now know my interests, values and skills and will explore those to shape my future career after sport.”

Triathlete Oswald Kydd added: “The Athletes Career Programme is very informative and educative.  It opens up athletes’ scope of what they will do after their sports career.

“For the younger athletes who have no work experience, this workshop has laid down the appropriate measures to take and encouraged them to look further and start preparing for their careers after sport.”

Commonwealth Games judo gold medallist, Zack Piontek concluded: “This experience was exactly what we sports persons need. Sometimes we know where we are going but only to a certain extent and it is only limited to sport. This experience will help us moving forward to realise all the possibilities and more importantly, how to approach them.”


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