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The power of mentoring

The power of mentoring

The first session of the 2020 Muhammad Ali Center Athletes and Social Change Forum focused on “the greatness of mentorship.” sportanddev reports.

On 9-10 July 2020, the Muhammad Ali Center and Mentor National organised the 2020 edition of the Muhammad Ali Center Athletes and Social Change Forum. Taking place virtually, the forum was designed to “advance education, advocacy and research on the roles and contributions of athletes in promoting social change, human rights and development.”

This year, the theme of the event was “the role and impact of mentors and mentoring on the next generation of athletes and social change.” The forum welcomed athletes, scholars, practitioners and policymakers among a host of other people involved in the field. It featured a wide range of topics, from the roles and responsibilities of the athletes beyond the playing field to assessing the impact of mainstream and social media on how athletes can affect social change.

The first thematic event of the first day was titled “The Greatness of Mentorship: Heart, Soul and Spirit” and set the tone for the rest of the forum. It headlined by:

  • Dr Marion Keim, Foundation for Sport, Development and Peace and University of the Western Cape
  • Dr Lyndon Bouah, Western Cape Provincial Government, South Africa
  • Mr Warren Lucas, Youth Coordinator, Foundation for Sport, Development and Peace

The three speakers from different walks of life shared their experiences and emphasised on how mentoring and mentorship plays an integral role in sport and beyond. Dr Keim began by placing  an emphasis on how mentorship is a service, which is “touched by the heart, the soul, and the spirit”. For Dr Keim, mentoring follows value-based approaches in the world of sport, especially guided by the Olympic and Paralympic values of excellence, respect and friendship. She further continued to elaborate on how mentorship can play a significant role in youth and athlete development, and that the practice does not need to be bound by age, background or experience. Anybody can be a mentor to us.

Dr Lyndon Bouah took this sentiment further and explained the different stages and actors involved in mentoring an individual. Starting from home, he explained, mentorship begins at an early age when we learn from our parents, teachers and peers. Their stories and wisdom play a big role in growing up and form a significant part of our actions and mindset. He further explained how athletes are subliminally mentored through various parts of their life, given the people they come across. Echoing a similar idea to Dr Keim, he stated that classical education is not a decisive factor in mentoring and the level of education should not be a criteria for who can and cannot be a mentor.

He was followed Mr Warren Lucas, who shared how he has had the privilege of having both Dr Keim and Dr Bouah as mentors in his life. He shared how his experiences as a gymnast have helped him significantly throughout his life and how his current educational experience has improved because of the contribution of his mentors. He ended by sharing a list of lessons he has learnt by being both a mentee and a mentor. These lessons include the importance of asking for help, staying in touch and collaborating with each other whenever possible.

The session ended with a brief discussion where attendees got an opportunity to ask their questions. The discussion revolved around suggestions on what can be done to improve the contribution of mentoring through compiling good practices and sharing experiences across different sectors among other ideas. There was an emphasis on how athletes should be mentored at a young age to prevent any unforeseen circumstances, as mentorship has the potential to create safe spaces for young people and others.

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Monday, July 20, 2020 - 12:35

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