KZNA to develop young athletes

2015-02-10 00:00

PIETERMARITZBURG schools are set to benefit from KwaZulu-Natal Athletics’ (KZNA) newly unveiled youth development plan in the next five years.

Speaking to The Witness yesterday, KZNA president Sello Mokoena outlined the goals for the programme, which will be implemented this year.

The province will be divided up ­into 12 districts which will facilitate the identification and development of promising young athletes who would otherwise be overlooked.

“As it stands, most of our private and former Model C schools already produce and nurture young athletes. We are looking to help underprivileged schools give promising athletes the chance to become future professionals,” Mokoena told The Witness.

The programme is aiming to touch the lives of 4 000 young athletes in its first year. “From there, we will look to select 30 to 60 young athletes and place them in a support programme, where they will receive specialist coaching,” Mokoena said.

When asked how districts would be singled out, the KZNA president said that certain areas in the province were producing stronger athletes in certain disciplines.

“An athlete’s affinity for different disciplines is often dictated by ­genetics, the environment they grow up in and the facilities available. An example would be looking at ­Zululand, which has produced longer distance runners in the past.”

By singling out certain districts that produce stronger groups of athletes in certain disciplines, Mokoena hopes to discover the best young athletes from around the province.

But where does Pietermaritzburg fit into this picture?

“Pietermaritzburg is key for us as they have been proactive in setting up and renovating a synthetic track there. It was just up to KZNA to come up with the plans to utilise the facilities to develop young talent in the area,” Mokoena said. “We have worked closely with the local government and there will be some big events hosted there in the future.”

Mokoena also highlighted the cluster of historically strong athletics schools in the capital. “We have ­already identified a number of schools that would be used as a base for developing these young athletes who come through the development programme,” Mokoena said.

The plan is set to use a number of the strongest athletics schools in the province to house and develop the ­talent from the youth development programme.

The youth development programme will be headed up by award-winning coach Mark Labuschagne. His role will be to co-ordinate the programme in each of the districts through coaches and committees.

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