Its been always my belief that “you can’t give what do don’t have”. That’s why in order to learn a different perspective in Athletics from countries and communities with successful Athletics programs, I took the risk of contacting different Athletics clubs and organizations in Europe especially in Czech Republic and Germany. It was such a humbling and totally enlightening one.  We may think that they are successful in sports because they are a first-world country. Still, there are common values that this countries posses that we might emulate here in the Philippines.

Germany’s national sprinter Alexandra Burghardt who is part of the 4x100m Women’s Relay that won the 2017 IAAF World Relays in Bahamas. Take note she is training in Mannheim where she is studying .His coach Valerij Bauer is based on the same city .

Integrity- All records of both German and Czech Athletics Federations are posted publicly and anyone can scrutinize them. All standards are set for specific international competitions thus all coaches and athletes know what they need to reach in order to make it to the final cut.

Decentralization- Coaches and Athletes in both countries train in their respective clubs and communities. National coaches are the ones going to the local clubs in order to “scout” and train athletes and supported by their national federation on the premise that they should met the standards. If standards are not met, coaches or trainers will not be included in the roster and will settle  more on the local levels hence information exchange is possible and local coaches on the other hand have the chance to be a national coach if their athlete will reach the standards needed for an international competition. It is the choice of the coach or trainer if they want to do a training camp at the national training center Kienbaum, Brandenburg, Germany where all of their needs are met in order to prepare them for an international event.

Former Olympian and German Athletics Champion Sprinter Cathleen Tschirch who is currently a state coach for the state of Baden-Würtemburg. She handles the sprints and hurdles for the 16 years old age group.

Engagement- I noticed that as well that most officials and trainers are very young. Certification programs are available to different regions and communities on a  regular basis. Even students especially taking sport science and physical education are involved in officiating and sports management.

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Results are open for public scrutiny and posted as soon as possible. No guessing game for athlete’s performance. You run on morning, results will be released before lunchtime.

Openness- As we noted earlier, the programs are freely discussed and shared in different forms of media and any criticism are accepted fairly and those aspiring coaches and volunteers are given equal opportunity to contribute in different events. The vibrance of their communities is seen in the youth involvement during the events.

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Fatima Kostkova (Second Seated from the left) is the young coach of this promising athletes of SSK Vitkovice Athletics Club in Ostrava, Czech Republic.

Process- Dr. Norbert Stein of German Sport University cited that coaches should treat grassroots programs especially for children as long process which means young athletes should not be treated as young adults. At a young age, form and movement patterns are the ones should be focused and not just for the sake of medals or prestige. Grassroots programs includes training camps which is done way ahead of  competitions and its content mostly is familiarization of technique and not grueling workouts. Also, young athletes are given the chance to try most of the events in Athletics. Only during 16 or 17 years old they specialize in one or two events or when they acquired the right performance, skills, and knowledge. Schools or universities are used as venues and the sports coordinator has no word on the training programs as this responsibility is given to the coach which is responsible during training period. During the 2017 German University Athletics Championships in Kassel, Germany, it is the primary requirement of student athletes if they want to be considered as delegated in the upcoming Universiade or World University Games. They must hit the a certain standards raised by the German Sports University Federation which is the country’s lone governing body for University Sports.

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I met Mr. Thorsten Hütsch (on my left) and Dr. Norbert Stein both from German University Sports Federation for the first time; yet, they hosted me well. Good intentions produces good friends.

Culture- In every event, there is a chance for athletes to bond and know each other. During the 2016 European Athletics Championships the last days of the competition is reserved for the Young Leaders Congress where all delegates including volunteers must attend. Here, they decide the management of the next host city of the championships and provide venues for information exchange. Athletes, officials, and volunteers work hand in hand and in my personal experience,  Mr. Thorsten Hütsch director of the Allgemeiner Deutscher Hochschulsportverband (adh) (German University Athletics Federation went to the extra mile by personally hosting a visitor like me in their house and was transported in his own vehicle going to the venue. I saw as well that top ranked officials are truly hands-on in different tasks and not just sitting at the comforts of their office.

It might be said that this examples are not applicable in Philippine setting. Still we can adapt some of this in our own way and perhaps this might help how we improve our programs.

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Mr. Michael Germann- the director of MTG Mannheim, Mannheim, Germany who is our host for the past 2 years that we visited Mannheim. Mannheim is  one of the leading Athletics clubs in Germany where at least 3 national athletes of Germany in Athletics are based.

Every experience should serve as a lesson learned and must be properly considered even it might not be pleasing for other people’s mindset. As a coach and former street parliamentarian, I see the value of continuous self assessment and criticism as part of personal development. I think its about time we can adapt this in the sport we love which is Athletics.

Comments and suggestions? Email me at airnel.abarra@gmail.com