NAIROBI, Kenya, May 7 – The National Olympic Committee of Kenya (NOC-K) hosted its inaugural online sports conference on Thursday in an effort to educate sportspersons in the country on how cope with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The conference that was officially opened by NOC-K president Paul Tergat, brought together other three panelists; Javelin Olympic silver medallist, Julius Yego, award winning coach Rosemary Owino, former international swimmer Kanyali Ilako as well as NOC-K acting Secretary General Francis Mutuku.
Topic of discussion was “Emotional intelligence –understanding and dealing with the social and personal effects of COVID-19”.
“We are in a different territory that we have never been before. This pandemic has affected us, and it will continue affecting us so as NOC-K our aim is to keep in touch with our sportsmen and women and give them advice through our experts. This pandemic has greatly affected sports and the postponement of the Olympics had an effect mentally to our athlete,” Tergat said.
The NOC-K chief said that the umbrella body of federations in Kenya will seek collaboration with the government through the ministry of sports and corporates to help out vulnerable athletes whose income depends on sports.
Tergat noted that the organization’s top interest is the athlete and that NOC-K was continually reviewing all processes to support sports people and welcomed more engagements of this nature going forward.
on the other hand, Ilako, now a sports psychologist, encouraged sports people to embrace the current reality of the COVID-19 situation in order to cope and thrive in the current situation.
“COVID-19 has had effects on mental health especially on athletes, this might lead to stress, depression and anxiety especially now that most sports have been cancelled, no income as they were used to. So, the athlete needs to find creative way to express themselves to release the stress like jumping, dancing, winning medals. Routine is also very important whereby the athlete needs to have a schedule of activities through the day to keep him busy. Thought is also important, they should always think positively,” Kanyali advised.
Yego, who is one of the elite athletes affected by the pandemic, says times are hard especially training alone.
“Everybody has been affected by this pandemic moreso athletes because it’s hard for us to train, we cannot physically see our coaches and get their instructions. Its tough time for us especially being an Olympic year,” Yego stated.
Tennis coach Rosemary Owino challenged sportsmen to instill discipline while on individual training.
“It’s okay to be stressed, get negative but most important is to curb it and build on it. Discipline levels of the athletes are highly tested now, are they able to train on their own without being followed?” Owino, the Davis Cup coach opined.
The next online conference will takes place on Friday from 3.00pm EAT.