One of many reasons why I support Special Olympics is the fact that everyone’s uniqueness is celebrated without making others feel left out. I encourage players to use sports as a vehicle to take them where they want to be in life. You can’t play sports all the time, so use the code to build discipline and the self-confidence to be an upright good citizen. We have athletes that found employment in places they wouldn’t normally find employment due to their special needs. On a normal day, these players or athletes wouldn’t be given the chance to showcase their skills and talents on an international level. These players are now recognized as national treasures because of Special Olympics.
As a coach, I always tell my players that sports is 40% physical and 60% mental. A lot of coaches put focus more on the physical aspect of sports and they tend to neglect the mental or psychological part of it. My focus has always been to teach players to identify their own unique talent. Maybe a certain player can’t shoot properly but has incredible speed. Instead of directing the player to shoot every time, which can damage his confidence with every miss, I tell him to run more and use his speed to evade his opponents. Eventually he will have enough confidence in himself to try new things like shooting.
Although I am a football coach, one recent success came from a swimmer, not a football player, at the school where I teach. The year after Kedibone Lucia Makhura finished at our school, she got a job which meant that her swimming had to be put on hold. I saw a talent that was about to be unfulfilled. I personally went to encourage her, advise her, help her realize her own potential and tell her that her talent could open up opportunities. I helped her find a coach and navigate a healthy work-life-sport balance. She took my advice and trained seriously earning the chance to compete internationally at the Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019 where she received a silver medal in the 25-meter freestyle with a time of 00:47:69.