Leadership in sport is a critical factor for success

Annette Willemse -- Thu, 03/17/2016 - 14:17

Leadership in sport is a critical factor for success

In October of 2016 the Department of Sport and Recreation on the Vaal Triangle Campus of the North-West University (NWU Vaal) will host the inaugural African Sport Leadership Programme – or ASLP as it has come to be known.

Heading-up this exciting venture is Dr Chrisna Botha-Ravyse and Ms Bianca Els, both from the Faculty of Economic Sciences and Information Technology. The ASLP represents a tailor-made, needs-based leadership growth series, focused on developing the aptitudes of individuals to lead the implementation of sport and physical activity related interventions, as partners of multi-sectorial groups and teams operating on various levels.  In this opinion piece, Ms Els explains the importance and intricacies of leadership within the world of sport.

Ms Bianca Els

 “Sport has the power to change the world. It has the power to inspire.  It has the power to unite people in a way that little else can. Sport can awaken hope where there was previously only despair.”  These powerful words, as spoken by our late president Nelson Mandela at the Laureus World Sports Awards Ceremony in 2000, will forever ring true for generations to come. It not only bears testament to the unifying and transformative nature of sport, but also hints at sport as a leadership instrument.

From primary school to professional arenas, sports nowadays are played in a very competitive environment.  Coaches and players feel the pressure to succeed, and the degree of success is always measured in terms of winning or losing.  That's why the value of leadership should be accentuated as a critical element in any sport.  Successful teams have strong leaders and the performance of a leader is very clear during training and matches. The leader’s contribution to the success of an athlete’s performance is significant, even though it less obvious in co-active situations.

It is often the responsibility of coaches and managers to motivate their athletes to reach their full potential but also to ensure the longevity of the athlete’s career. How often does a coach get fired because his team lost? It therefore becomes apparent that the strategic direction of any sport should continuously be evaluated and strengthened – via interventions such as the ASLP, to remain ahead of the curve and the latest trends within the very competitive world of sport.

The great head coach of the Green Bay Packers American football team, Vince Lombardi once said "Leaders are made, they are not born. They are made by hard effort, which is the price which all of us must pay to achieve any goal that is worthwhile."  It is not easy to be an effective leader, it takes hard work to gain the confidence of your athletes and understand the motivational dynamics of each athlete. Having the mere capacity to lead is simply not enough. The leader must be willing to use and hone his/her skills at all times.

The challenge remains in Africa that often our coaches, albeit brilliant at what they do on the sport field, lack essential leadership qualities. Only once the importance of leadership in sport is embraced by all, from the athlete all the way up to the top administrator, will our coaches remain and our management be free from any allegations. The latter referring to the countless accusations of corruption and misconduct within the sports sphere.

More about the ASLP

Dr Botha-Ravyse sums up the ASLP by stating: “We aim to vest collaborative and interdisciplinary approaches, and initiatives to empower Africa’s sports scientists, sports physicians, athletes, coaches, technical persons, administrators and governing bodies with a view to produce far better results while building up a vital knowledge base.”

The ASLP will take place in October and during the course of the next few months more information will be made available. If, at this stage, you have any queries you can contact Dr Botha-Ravyse on +27169103368 or by email: chrisna.botha@nwu.ac.za