Life after sport

Ahrens steps in to assist elite athletes

16 May 2019 | Sports

Many sports personalities lack direction and knowledge when it comes to finding a career and purpose after their flourishing careers end.

Athletics Commission chairperson Gaby Ahrens has thus initiated a workshop that will look at pioneering career development for Namibian athletes.

The workshop which will be fully funded and supported by Olympic Solidarity will be held in Windhoek on 15 June.

The workshop is aimed at helping athletes to confidently stride into a dual or new post-competitive sporting career by using their transferable skills.

Athletes are not always readily prepared and equipped to transition into other roles once they have retired from competitive sport.

“Athletes are presented with numerous challenges during and after competition, dealing with depression, finding their purpose and trying to fit into the professional world,” Ahrens said.

She added that many athletes are focused on competing, but then fail to develop professional skills, making it difficult for them to obtain employment once they have retired.

“This further obstructs them in the future, and also places a burden on them, as their finances become strained,” Ahrens said.

Olympic basketball player and Association of National Olympic Committees of Africa (ANOCA) member, Kady Kanoute Tounkara of Mali, will present the workshop.

Tounkara participated in the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games as a co-captain of Mali's women's basketball team.

She was also a professional player who plied her trade in Spain, France and Austria for several years and is a five-time French national champion.

Tounkara has also completed her marketing and management degree at Fordham University in the United States, where she was a full scholarship recipient.

“As an ANOCA Athletes Commission nominee since 2003, and at present a representative for Zone 2, she is a volunteer who represents, empowers and educates athletes.

“Kady is an active trainer and promoter of the IOC ACP outreach programme globally and particularly in Africa,” Ahrens said.

The dynamic training programme has been designed to specifically support elite athletes to balance sports training and competition, alongside their education.

The programme is also designed to help athletes manage dual careers, as this can be a difficult thing to do.

They key to the workshop is to enable athletes to build a game plan for future success.

Training will also involve networking, drafting of CVs and preparation for interviews.

“The workshop is primarily aimed at elite athletes who have participated at continental, regional and national level.

“Coaches and other support staff will also benefit and are encouraged to attend, so they can pass on their knowledge to their athletes.”

Only 40 places are available, but Ahrens has assured the public that they have taken all regions into consideration, including a member from a team sport, to attend the workshop.

The commission also plans on bringing in local heroes to be guest speakers on the one-day workshop.

As a retired athlete and former Olympian, Ahrens currently runs her own business and wishes to help other athletes do the same.

Namibia has about 41 athletes who have represented the country at previous Olympic Games.

Namibia National Olympics Committee (NNOC) secretary-general Joan Smit spoke highly of the programme.

“We did in the past have a programme of such a nature, even though it was mostly attended by scholars.

“It is, however, a very important programme that will definitely improve the lives of many athletes,” Smit said.

Interested parties are advised to contact the Namibia Athletics Commission via email at [email protected] or get in touch with Ahrens.

All participants residing outside Windhoek will be provided with accommodation and transport, and food will be served to all participants.

Jesse Jackson Kauraisa