AFI targets 1000 IAAF qualified coaches in 5 years

National athletics deputy chief coach Radhakrishnan Nair claims that this initiative will have a big impact on Indian athletics in the coming years.

IAAF President Sebastian Coe.   -  Biswaranjan Rout

The Athletics Federation of India (AFI) plans to have 1,000 IAAF license-holding coaches on its roster in the next five years in what it calls a “high-impact” initiative that will change the face of the sport at the grassroot level.

The AFI began work on this project with nine Level 1 courses at five cities last month. Each course has a maximum of 24 participants and four such Level 1 courses -- in Chennai, Ranchi, Gwalior and Patiala -- have already been completed.

Five more -- in Chennai, Ranchi, Gwalior, Patiala and Guwahati -- will be held in September-October.

“We have less than 40 IAAF (The International Association of Athletics Federations) qualified coaches. We have been following our own system and most of the coaches, even at the elite level, are diploma holders from our national institutes like the NIS Patiala,” national athletics deputy chief coach Radhakrishnan Nair told PTI.

“We have been lacking a systematic approach and need to start from the scratch. We are expecting at least 200 coaches to pass from these courses this year. These courses will be conducted every year and we are aiming to produce 1000 IAAF Level 1 license holders in five years,” said Nair, who is currently the most qualified coach in the country.

Nair, who is an IAAF Academy Course diploma holder, claimed that in five years’ time, every district in the country will have a qualified IAAF coaching license holder.

“This initiative is going to have a big impact on Indian athletics in the coming years,” he said.

There are three courses -- Level 1, 2 and 3 -- under the IAAF Coaches Education and Certification System. India currently has less than 40 coaches who have passed an IAAF CECS course. Out of these, around two dozen are Level 1 and 2 license holders while around 15 are Level 3 license holders.

The IAAF level 1 license holder can become a coach of Under 12-15 age group athletes, while Level 2 coaches, who specialise in one among the fields of sprints and hurdles, middle/long distance running and race walks, jumps, throws and combined events, can train Under-20 athletes. Only Level 3 diploma holders are eligible to train elite athletes at national camps.

Above these three basic levels of courses is the IAAF Academy Diploma course which is conducted only at the IAAF center in Singapore. Nair is the only one in the country to hold this diploma.

Level 1 course, which runs 14 days, can be conducted in a country but it has to bear all the cost while the IAAF will only send course material. Level 2 course can also be conducted in a country on request to IAAF but only when there are enough level 1 license holders who have coaching experience of at least one year on field. The Level 3 course in conducted at the IAAF regional center in Jakarta.

AFI has conducted the Level 1 course only twice till now -- in 2000 and 2015 -- and Nair cited the cost factor and the tradition of using the services of diploma holders from national institutions for training of athletes as the reasons behind this few qualified coaches.

“We have only three IAAF qualified trainers in the country, including myself. So, we have to invite IAAF qualified trainers from abroad and their accommodation, flight tickets and his daily allowance will have to be taken care of by the federation. It is a huge cost,” he said.

“We are charging Rs 25000 from each participant for the Level 1 course and they will be provided with three star accommodation, their airfare and fooding. The AFI is bearing the cost of foreign trainers.”

For each Level 1 course, there will be one foreign trainer and one Indian trainer. Nair is among three Indian trainers who have done a special course in Monaco.

“We are going to request the IAAF to allow us have Level 2 course in different event groups towards the end of next year. By that time we will have at least 200 Level 1 license holders who have coaching experience of one year and they can go for Level 2 course.

“If we have enough Level 2 license holders, we can request the IAAF to allow us conduct Level 3 course in India instead of having it in Jakarta.”

Ashwini Nachappa, Soma Biswas and Sahana Kumari and are among the former athletes who are taking part in the Level 1 course.

“Till now, only physical education teachers and former athletes are eligible to take part in this Level 1 course. We will open it up so that sports medicine and biomechanics experts can also take up these IAAF courses,” AFI Communications Manager Divesh Bhal said.

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