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Bringing athletics to Kankia

Bringing athletics to Kankia

Physiologist and athletics coach, Gareth Sandford shares his experiences on introducing a new athletics programme to the Khel Vikas project, in Odisha, India, for Pro Sport Development.

Joining the project

The vision of Pro Sport Development to create sporting pathways for tribal children to progress to elite competition was a huge draw for me to come to India. I felt that I was well placed to make a significant contribution to the high performance vision by adding a more scientific and professional approach towards the Khel Vikas sports programmes.

Experience in the role

To be able to build something from the ground upwards, with the participation we have had is extremely pleasing. Sprinting and middle distance running events particularly suit the tribal children and it is fantastic to have had the opportunity to implement a long term athlete development programme for the Khel Vikas project.

The greatest success is probably the behavioural change of the female athletes. Since working with them, they have grown in confidence, not just in a sporting context but in overall communication. They demonstrate a willingness to interact with me as their coach, which prior to the camp was not the case. This truly symbolises the power of what can be achieved by the project in developing holistic human beings, not simply talented athletes.

Sharing videos of the Olympic Games with the students was something very special, as many had never seen or heard of the event. The Olympic message can both inspire, and give the athlete’s something to aspire towards.

Influence of the project

Cultural differences across India in lifestyle as well as sport provided challenges that will better prepare me for the variety of encounters that life and a career in sport will present. The impact this experience has had is immeasurable.

[This article was edited by the Operating Team]


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Gareth Sandford


Friday, May 30, 2014 - 13:00