“The battles that count aren`t the ones for gold medals. The struggles within yourself – the invisible, inevitable battles inside all of us – that`s where it`s at. “- Jesse Owens- Gold Medalist 1936 Berlin Olympics.
It is easy to say that the success of a coach depends on how much medals you win and how much athletes you bring to championships. Coaching is mostly given to those former athletes especially those who has the chance of becoming champions on their respective disciplines. Never comes into the mind of most people that one can be a coach even that person was never a champion athlete at all. Never will come to the mind of policy makers that those who tried their best to study a sport and how it is done can be a coach at all.
As a coach of Athletics or Track and Field which is the centerpiece of major sporting events in the world such as Olympic Games, Asiad, and Southeast Asian Games, it is quite ironic that we struggle to promote the sport here in our community. Most athletes and students prefer to play the ballgames which is mainly exposed in mainstream media. That’s why it takes time to convince students to take Athletics as a sport of choice. Still, as a coach, we must realize that we must try our best to give whatever it takes to promote the sport that we love the most.
In the 10 years that I’ve been coaching, I endured different challenges related to the sport. There was a time I will be judged as outcast since I try to speak out what should be done in order to train athletes properly. That’s why I chosen to leave my hometown and seek better opportunities in Davao Region. It is quite a leap of faith that I went here with any certainty if I will be accepted. Still when there are people who believes in you, anything can be possible. The only limitation will be yourself.
When we started the Blue Knights Track League in November 2014, I thought I will be just organizing another running event, but as time goes by, I realize that in order to gain more athletes and to make them confident is to bring them to the best possible experience they can get. Athletics in the Philippines are usually organized with such mediocrity. The “pwede na” mentality penetrates to the character of the athletes thus they can only settle for the better opportunities in the big league schools in the capital. Never will realize that in not just by gaining medals an athlete can be a better one. It’s all about on how coach bring out the best in every athlete in and outside the oval. In the Blue Knights Track League, we try to bring the best experience to the athlete and other coaches by following the model of consistent athletics meet in the community. This is the major key of most powerhouse countries in Athletics. They regularly do events and provide better experience for the athletes.
Most coaches are measured and scrutinized in their respective communities. Important is even a coach is not a former champion athlete but brings out the champion character to his/her athlete, then we can be sure the athletes we are taking care of are formed not only in skills but in character. Because champion athletes are not just medal winners but life winners as well.
With all said and done with the initiatives of providing better experience for the athletes, we must go to one direction and ignore people who think small. Just keep on moving and the results of your athlete will speak for it.
Airnel T. Abarra, MSc.
Head Coach Track and Field- Ateneo de Davao University