Category Archives: Paralympic

Interdisciplinary Approaches to Sustainable Coaching

On a recent trip to Blacksburg, Virginia to visit Tim Baird, Professor of Geography at Virginia Tech who is a college friend from Maine, we took a hike in Jefferson National Forest. During the hike we encountered stunning natural scenery below and shared ideas and thoughts of our respective academic pursuits. At the outset, let me state that Professor Baird’s academic performance and training has won him many awards and admiration from his students.

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Signpost at Jefferson National Forest Photo credit: T. Mohammed

The 2016 Rio Olympics are being broadcast worldwide so I thought I would add my bit of sporting commentary on elite amateur athletes and the rest of us. Many of the athletes have been training rigorously over 4 years or more and aim to reach peak performance during competition at the Olympics. Michael Phelps, Simone Biles or Katie Ledecky are perfect examples of athletes who are reaching peak performances at this year’s Olympics.

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“Water in Stream” in Jefferson National Forest. Photo credit: T. Mohammed

Just like water in a stream (see photo above), my hike with Professor Baird, reminded me of my graduate school readings by Mihaly Csikzektmihalyi, a Hungarian psychologist known for his work on the concept of “flow,” in the field of positive psychology. The concept of “flow” has been applied in sport for development and peace and other disciplines.

According to Cziketmaihalyi and his 2004 TED Talk, everyone, be they an Olympian, student, coach or parent is always striving for their “A” game which means achieving a state of flow and staying in it. While Professor Baird and I are from different academic disciplines – geography and sport for development and peace  respectively- our liberal arts background allowed us to have an interdisciplinary discussion on sustainable coaching.

In Professor Baird’s case he was in the midst of publishing a new research paper on sustainable innovation which we also spoke about in depth. As for me, I am learning how to get “unstuck” and “out of my own way,” to stay in a state of flow in the field of sport for development and peace. Thanks Professor Baird for a terrific visit to Virginia and a meaningful hike!

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Filed under Capacity Buidling, Coaching, Education, International Development, Leisure, Literature Review, Networking, Olympic, Paralympic, Psycho-Social Support, Recreation, Rehabilitation, Uncategorized, Youth Development

Sports Memorabilia: Is at an excessive love of sport?

If you happen to live in the Greater Boston and are looking for a way to inspire your son or daughter with a dose of Boston sports history, then request a museum pass from your local library. Thanks to the Memorial Hall Library Membership program (my local library) a free entry pass to The Sports Museum in Boston made it possible for a summer visit.

Museum Pass made available through Library Membership Program at Memorial Hall Library.

Museum Pass made available through Library Membership Program at Memorial Hall Library, Andover, Massachusetts.

The Sports Museum was a new discovery for me given that one has been traveling from country to country observing sport for development and peace practices. What I found unique about The Sports Museum was that it provided a greater awareness of the four major American sports – football, baseball, basketball and hockey – which were all highlighted in some way during the tour. Our young tour guide was very knowledgable and had lots of great stories about Boston sports personalities.

Highly values sports memorabilia in The Sports Museum, Boston, Massachusetts.

Sports memorabilia in The Sports Museum, Boston, Massachusetts from July, 2016 visit Photo credit: T. Mohammed.

Furthermore, since the professionalization and specialization of sports in the United States, there are dedicated “Hall of Fame” for sports such as tennis and squash (both in the New England area too). Such devotion and allocation of resources to sport does not typically happen in low-income countries since there are more pressing needs like water, sanitation, electricity, agricultural development and housing, for example. Is this excessive love of sport in high-income countries or should low-income countries also strive for such development?

This is an ongoing debate within international development circles on whether sport is a “cost-effective” social and economic development tool in low-income countries. The 2016 Olympics in Rio, has an opportunity to leave a positive legacy for Latin America and the rest of the world. The 2012 London Olympics’s International Inspiration certainly did for 12 million children in 20 low-income countries.

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Filed under Community Development, Corporate Social Responsibility, Education, Foreign Policy, International Development, Leadership, Leisure, Olympic, Paralympic, Planning, Poverty, Recreation, Stakeholder Engagement, Youth Development

Community Sport: What are Transferable Methodologies and Approaches?

The 2016 Olympics in Rio has generated terrific event in the Greater Boston area, like the one I attended yesterday with guest speakers such as Ellen Minzer, World Champion rower and award-winning coach. From her experience at elite levels of rowing and more recently as a coach to athletes with disabilities preparing for the Paralympics in Rio, Coach Minzer highlighted the importance of social inclusion in sport.

Among Coach Minzer, many coaching roles she serves as the Director of Outreach with Community Rowing Inc a sport-based youth development program based in Boston. In listening to Coach Minzer presentation, I began to see linkages in the aspirations of what Kidsquash was striving for in Boston and Khelshala in India. Comparisons can be made in community sport – such as rowing and squash – though executed differently by athletes during competition.

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Squash is mostly an individual sport in that during competition on the court it is one versus one, although there are team events too such as doubles squash with two versus two. Rowing is more of a team sport although there can be events with single sculling. The question for program directors of sport-based youth development programs from different community sports becomes what best practice in coaching rowing can be applied to squash or vice versa? What coaching methodologies do coaches use with differently aged and abled athletes? What coaching philosophies or approaches can program directors help to implement?

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These questions have societal consequences for all stakeholders in sport and beyond. This is why it is important to create more qualified coaches such as Coach Minzer who gives back to the sport, no matter what the level of the athletes, as they can help raise standards in community sport practice and participation. The Institute of Athletic Coach Education at Boston University is a fantastic resource for program directors and coaches to begin or enhance their professional development with sport-based youth development programs.

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Filed under Capacity Buidling, Coaching, Community Development, Conferences, Education, Gender, Leadership, Leisure, Networking, Paralympic, Professional Development, Rehabilitation, Stakeholder Engagement, Youth Development

Representing Khelshala and Kidsquash at the United Nations Headquarters

Over the past few days, I was fortunate to attend the 3rd International Forum on Sport for Peace and Development at the United Nations Headquarters in New York. United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon and the Dr. Jacques Rogge, President of the International Olympic Committee led the opening session of the Forum. Here is the official UN press release.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon and Dr. Jacques Rogge, President of the International Olympic Committee leading the opening session.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon and Dr. Jacques Rogge, President of the International Olympic Committee leading the opening session.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon and Dr. Jacques Rogge, President of the International Olympic Committee leading the opening session.

As a member of the International Sport for Development and Peace Association, I attended the forum to represent Khelshala (India) and Kidsquash (USA) to learn, connect and collaborate with others working in the field of sport for development and peace. An informal meeting of practitioners, researchers and educators provided an opportunity for networking as well as an avenue for sharing updates on university programs, research and sport-based youth development initiatives.

There were several references made by Mr. Wilfred Lemke, UN Special Advisor on Sport, on the role of volunteerism in sport as a means to activate young people. As a former United Nations Volunteer, I believe this would be a valuable experience for aspiring development professionals. Thanks to the organizers of the event it was an opportunity to learn from the nuances in high-level, policy discussions as well as be at the forefront to mainstream sport-for development programming in the United Nations systems and beyond.

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Filed under Community Development, Conferences, Education, Foreign Policy, International Development, Leadership, Networking, Olympic, Paralympic, Peace Building, Private Public Partnerships, Professional Development, Public Policy, Stakeholder Engagement, Youth Development, Youth Sport

Backing the Squash Bid for 2020 Olympics

In honor of the 2012 World Squash Day, we celebrated by kicking off the 2012-13 Kidsquash season with 15 juniors just beginning their foray into the great game of squash. Lead Coach Luke Hammond, a former coach at SquashBusters along with Octavio Chiesa, a former Kidsquash participant who has returned to volunteer coach this season both brought their energy and enthusiasm to give the beginners a good start.

Kidsquash Backing the 2020 Bid

Kidsquash Backing the 2020 Bid

Later in the evening, I returned to Concord Academy to screen the documentary film called “Keep Eye on Ball: The Hashim Khan Story.” It was an educational experience for Concord Academy students to learn about the legacy of the Khan dynasty as well as the historical origins of squash and how the sport emerged. At Concord Academy, my predecessor was Enamullah Khan, an accomplished squash coach and member of the Khan dynasty.

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Even though the numbers of participants for both events were low they did play a part in shaping the bigger picture.  Today over 20,000 squash players mobilized across the world to back the bid for inclusion of squash into the 2020 Olympics. Hopefully the International Olympic Committee will respond favorably to this campaign to rightfully include a truly global sport.

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Filed under Coaching, Community Development, Education, Leadership, Olympic, Paralympic, Squash, Stakeholder Engagement, Volunteering, Youth Development, Youth Sport