Thanks to the Singapore Disability Sport Council (SDSC), we had the opportunity to have a world champ coach and team help us improve our game recently (11th to 13th of Feb).
Over the short span of three days, Coach Murray and his team have helped me see potential in the team beyond what I could imagine. This was clearly demonstrated by our women team’s progress between the two friendly games on the first and last day of the program.
“Having a mentor coach is perhaps one of the most powerful way for a coach to develop and improve.”
In Goalball, the game is ended as soon as one team wins by a ten goal margin. The SG women’s team lost 0-10 even before the first half on the first day. On the last day, our team lost 1-10, but managed to hold the Australian team up to the end of regulation time.
This was no easy feat for a Southeast Asian team, especially since the last time the women had a chance to compete in a friendly game was in 2016 (drew 10-10) against Malaysia, and they were up against a very disciplined team that recently beat Russia to win the world youth championship (view link).
Key Takeaways from the Exchange Program
1. Defense Wins Games and there should be NO compromise on the Fundamentals
Most of the work that we did during the exchange was on defense, or rather, we reviewed the fundamental strategies and techniques for defense. I also learnt how certain cue words, descriptions and drills would work better for my players.
A good defense would be a quick way for a young team like us to be competitive (We started Goalball only in 2015 while our SEA neighbors have been playing the sport for more than two decades). We also discussed about how we could better strategise around a sound defense and strong fundamentals, when competing against our more experienced SEA neighbors.
2. It’s a Long and Rough road ahead!
The Goalball team’s vision is to have a sustainable team sport for persons with visual impairment for years to come, and our short term goal is to have at least 20 persons playing the game competitively by 2020 #20for2020 (We currently have only about 10 players training regularly).
We believe that increasing participation is the key piece to improving performance, i.e., we could have the best coaching and training but all will come to zilch if little is done outside the courts to promote the game and increase participation.
Qualifying and performing well for APG 2019 would a boost to promoting the game among both the visually impaired and even sighted participants.
“The Goalball team’s vision is to have a sustainable team sport for persons with visual impairment for years to come…”
My team and I do feel overwhelmed at times by the monumental task of increasing participation and improving performance, especially since some of the players are already struggling financially to pay for an upcoming friendly in Bangkok. Also, a couple of our players had to quit the team due to work, financial and personal issues.
But there’s hope! Not only has Coach Murray shared with us how to perform better on the court, he has also shared ideas and provided us with resources to engage partners in order to achieve our goals. But in order to do so, our team has to really live by our motto of Excellence through Commitment and Patience (ECP).
3. The Importance of Coach Mentorship
I’ve always learnt best through non-formal education. Having a mentor coach is perhaps one of the most powerful way for a coach to develop and improve. In the past, I was able to achieve breakthroughs as a psychology coach NOT from “classroom learning”, but through an understudy program with one of the best performance coaches in the world.
This experience with Coach Murray for the Sport of Goalball would be no exception. I feel that it is time to establish a sustainable coach mentorship program for our local coaches, and our athletes would be the ultimate beneficiary from such a program!
p.s. we need all the support we can get! If you are interested to help us or know of anyone who is keen to take up this sport, please do not hesitate to contact me.