Forty-year old Seilhaneath Khom from Cambodia was busy making notes during the 5th Fazza Para Archery World Rankings tournament, the first Para tournament in World Archery calendar in 2019, that was held in Dubai last week.
The coach was not just making points on the winners, their impairments and matches but was making sure that her athlete, Chhith Vanneth, was learning new techniques and a shooting style through the competition. Vanneth, who started playing the sport just two months ago, was on her first international trip here.
She along with Khom and two others (1 coach and 1 athlete) were in Dubai to attend the five-day Coaches and Classifiers Training Course, organised by Asian Paralympic Committee (APC) and World Archery and held simultaneously with the Fazza Para Archery 2019 meet.
Overall, the course was attended by 25 participants (11 classifiers, nine coaches and five athletes) from six nations including Bhutan, Iraq, Kyrgyzstan, Sri Lanka, Cambodia and the United Arab Emirates.
Khom has 2 years’ coaching experience and has offered training courses to her athletes at the Indonesia 2018 Asian Para Games, ASEAN Games and national competitions. But the knowledge and exposure she gained last week was highly valuable. “This one week was really informative. We learned about so many new aspects of coaching and classification. Now, we know the difference in training for an archer who is visually impaired and one who had cerebral palsy. We also learned about many kinds of equipment, rules and how to train archers with different impairments.”
“Also getting to watch the Fazza competitions here was an added prize. Our archers got to watch some top archers shooting here and this experience will help them in the coming time as they look to become better. We are very thankful to Asian Paralympic Committee for this exposure,” Khom told Asian Paralympic Committee (APC).
Cambodia came here with two coaches, two classifiers and two athletes and overall, they have five archers who are aspiring and training to qualify for the Paralympics.
Khom added: “This week was an eye-opener. We know our weaknesses now and how to train our athletes.”
Coaches thanked APC
Experienced Sri Lankan coach and archer Jagath Weeratunga praised APC for the step of educating the coaches and classifiers from nations who don’t have a rich history in Archery. “This is great move. This will help to develop the sport and the Paralympic Movement in nations like us, where we don’t have many Para archers or don’t receive the adequate financial support. I hope we have more Para archers now. We are so happy to come here and attend the workshops. Thank you, APC.”
During the week, two separate courses were provided to the Coaches and the Classifiers, with Vincent Hybois, coach and expert from the French Handisport Federation delivering the coaches’ and archers’ training.
While two archers from World Archery Classified Committee provided the training to national classifiers in a two-day course. Post the course, the classifiers also took written and practical exams and most of them passed.
Support and Expertise to developing nations
Chairperson of the World Archery Para Committee Carole Hicks was happy to see the interest in smaller nations for Para Archery. She said the courses was aimed at giving a better foundation to the trainers to help them to identify to Para archers in their countries and also support them becoming international classifiers.
“One of the things World Archery has concentrated on since our existence 2009 is to encourage all of our member countries to have Para archers. But sometimes, it’s difficult as government has to support their abled-body archers too. So, we are trying to provide training and workshops, and with the financial effort of APC, this could happen here,” Hicks said.
“The objective of this course was to provide support to those countries from Asia who don’t have the facilities and expertise to train the archers themselves. These trainers are now trained classifiers and coaches, and they know the sorts of impairments that are permissible and how to test for it.
“NPCs like Bhutan are very active in the recent past. And they are making quick progress thanks to the efforts of their secretary general. I hope we get to see some participation from these nations in events next year,” she concluded.
This was for the first time APC has provided support in Para Archery training courses. In the past, the Asian body had supported women’s wheelchair basketball development through a camp organised by the International Wheelchair Basketball Federation (IWBF) Asia Oceania Zone (AOZ) in Bangkok in April 2017.
The APC also provided support in the preparation and participation of North Korean team at the Rio 2016 Paralympics, PyeongChang 2018 and Indonesia 2018 Asian Para Games in Jakarta.