Jean Noel Anis, Sports Development Officer at Wan Smol Bag Theatre has returned from an OSEP (Oceania Sports Education Program) coaching course in Fiji to learn how to customise coaching to meet the diverse needs of young athletes playing sport with a disability.
Anis is a full time coordinator of sport with Wan Smol Bag, working with the Rainbow Theatre group but has been working increasingly with para-athletes.
As well as working with para athletes, Anis is serving a second term with the Vanuatu Paralympic Committee (VPC), so has a lot of corporate history and knowledge about issues surrounding the challenges of providing sporting opportunities for people with an impairment. He has also undertaken Classifiers training. Any para-athlete must undergo rigorous medical tests and as well as practical sporting assessments to decide to what degree their impairment affects them. Then, each athlete is put into a certain category. When competing in an internationally rated competition, para athletes compete in that classification band.
“I know how complicated classification can be, so I thought becoming a para-coach might be really difficult too – but it’s not! It’s really a case of being sensitive and understanding about each para-athlete’s capabilities and needs, then adjusting the training to suit. You can have integrated training programs where able-bodied athletes are being trained at the same time as athletes living with an impairment. That’s the message of the OSEP training, supported by Won Smol Bag, VASANOC and the VPC, that I attended in Fiji.”
Integration is the big message – the mixing together of able bodied and parasports in the same event. Vanuatu saw this at the Pacific Mini Games last December and again at the Commonwealth Games in Australia in April. The Pacific Games in Samoa next year will be an integrated competition.
“I’m really looking for new parathletes too. So if you have a friend or a family member or someone at Church who would like to come along to running training, or a try at javelin and shot put or table tennis with Ham Bulu from Smash Down Barriers Program who does para table tennis twice a week at Wan Smol Bag – contact me and I will really welcome new athletes willing to have a try!” says Anis. “I’m running a Talent Identification Day at Wan Smol Bag on Thursday 1st November. Let me know if you want to come!”
Another significant benefit of the OSEP training also attended by other Ni Vanuatu coaches is that we now have in country capacity to run OSEP courses here in Vanuatu instead of sending trainees to Fiji. We can build up a broader base of coaches able to plan, design and run integrated training programs. Remember – when teams travel overseas to big competitions, it’s not just athletes who go. Coaches and officials must travel with them – so there’s a real opportunity to be seized. If you are interested in coaching, contact Jessica Richardson at VASANOC or Anis at Wan Smol Bag for more details.