It is the Special Olympics belief that all athletes are champions, and the purpose of holding sports competitions is to recognize the bravery and abilities of the athletes in our communities. In my role as a Special Olympics coach, Special Olympics Iran athletes taught me about the pivotal role that the Special Olympics athletes play in society.
When working with athletes, I encourage them to improve their physical and emotional well-being, which ultimately increases their fitness levels. For example, I had the opportunity to coach an athlete who was new to badminton as a sport. When the athlete joined me to train, he was keen on learning and slightly overweight. In addition to our badminton training, I met his family and shared a healthy nutrition plan with them. With his family's encouragement and support, we began daily one-hour walks. We talked and listened to music to ensure he was not bored. We developed his speed using specialized tools such as agility ladders or brightly colored targets to reach. I also worked with him to increase his strength using light weights of 1 of 3 KGs.
Of all my coaching methods and values, the most important to me is that the athletes feel wholly happy when participating in the activities and have all-rounder motivation from their community, family, and friends. I remember that the happiest moments of the training in this specific story I shared were when I played happy tunes, upbeat music, and the athlete enjoyed our session, so he would dance with joy during break times.
I learned from the Special Olympics athletes I train that the athletes always act with pure friendship, kindness, honesty, and love.
"I truly hope that everyone can learn from the Special Olympics athletes, and if we embrace the qualities of our athletes into our daily lives, we can build a world of justice, equality, and happiness."
Besides being a Badminton coach, I am also an education teacher, and badminton has raised my spirits in helping others. Badminton has helped me better teach others, and I am always looking for talents to develop them. During COVID-19, I was determined to boost the morale of the athletes, and hone their sports skills, even if it required shifting the trainings to the virtual realm to train the athletes from the safety of their homes.
We quickly adapted to virtual tools and began motivating the athletes via online exercise classes that the athletes welcomed in a time when all on-ground training facilities were closed due to the lockdown. Soon after curfews were lifted, we began to reap the results of our hard work. The athletes were now even more motivated as they got the sense of belonging to a community that tackled challenging times together.
I launched individual trainings with athletes following all World Health Organization protocols. One of the success stories is of a 16-year-old athlete, Davood Sarfi (video above), who displayed great badminton skills after many virtual and individual trainings. I learned that through sport, we have the power to build adaptive, welcoming, inclusive mindsets.
Today, I can say with happiness that to me, life means badminton and Special Olympics.
About the Special Olympics Coaching Program
Join over 9,000 other coaches around the world in becoming a qualified Special Olympics coach using the Special Olympics Online Learning Portal. Gain your official certification by completing the online modules and progress up the coach education ladder to improve your knowledge and improve the quality of sport for your athletes. Courses include Level 1 Sport Assistant, Level 2 Coach Assistant, Unified Sports Coaching, Young Athletes Coaching, World Games Preparation, and additional fitness, Protective Behaviors, and concussion awareness training.
Courses are available in multiple languages including English, Spanish, French, Russian, Arabic and Chinese along with Japanese, Greek, Portuguese, Korean and Hindi. For assistance in registering for the Learning Portal follow this step-by-step guide.