Fri, 22 Sep 2023

WINDHOEK, March 17 (Xinhua) -- A Namibian coach is helping people with disabilities make their debuts as athletes.

Richard Goreseb, a grass-roots para-athletics coach from Windhoek, Namibia's capital, said he observed challenges of stigma and scarce mentorship for people with disabilities. After a successful span in active athletics in early 2016, he retired and diverted his attention to empowering others.

"I want to inspire, nurture and cultivate high sports competency for those often left out," he said.

The training focuses on the rules of the various athletics disciplines, transferring techniques on body control and speed, and determining the best suitable sports code for beginners and senior para-athletes.

The role is multi-dimensional. According to Goreseb, it is crucial to help them overcome mental barriers and limitations to create a new path for themselves amid societal discrimination.

"I have to look beyond the physical disability to bring out the best in each person to overcome psychological barriers. I learned how to coach after attending a course for coaches here in Namibia," he said.

The 46-year-old Goreseb is also attached to the local Namibia Lions Sports Club, through which diverse-skilled coaches collaborate to nurture the talent of both abled and disabled people for maximum benefit.

Since 2016, he has coached over 150 people, most of whom soar to new heights, promoting Para sports for athletes with disabilities at national games and trials such as the athletics grand prix and globally.

On his first international coaching assignment, Goreseb accompanied a group of athletes to international games and brought back 17 medals for the country. He has groomed internationally-acclaimed Paralympian athlete Johannes Nambala, who competes in T13 sprint events.

Most recently, Nico Kharxab, a para-cyclist he has coached, is competing in the para-cycling discipline at the South African Sports Association for the Physically Disabled National Championships in Cape Town this week.

Kharxab said the coaching boosts his competitiveness beyond the country's borders and is optimistic about a win.

"The coaches created a platform to improve, which paved the way for us to participate in games confidently when facing tough opponents and to not back down against any odds," Kharxab said.

Despite progress, some challenges persist. Many para-athletes struggle to train due to transport costs, others train on an empty stomach, and thus some quit. Goreseb knows many love sports and sometimes helps the athletes with his salary earned as a sports administrative officer at Athletics Namibia.

"I want to ensure that Namibia becomes a home of stars," he said.

Michael Hamukwaya, secretary general of Namibia's National Paralympic Committee, said the role of coaches even extends to educating the community and advocacy.

"Our goal is to debunk stereotypes and discrimination to drive inclusivity," said Hamukwaya.

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