Written by Gavin Grenville-Wood
It’s a 15-hour journey from London to Johannesburg, through Dubai, with a further 90 minutes to the Academy location, several miles southwest of the city in Parys. It’s still exciting though.
The trip is the brainchild of Francois van Rensburg who runs the Academy. The purpose of it is to help the guys on the ground build out their structure and curriculum for the juniors as well as deliver some classes at the local schools and some Master Classes at the course.
Spent the day with the coaches. We played golf at Randpark Golf Club, home of the South African Open. It was relaxed and certainly fun, but more importantly, it was great to begin to understand what makes the coaches tick, and to understand what their goals were. You certainly can’t beat meeting and spending time with people, face to face; we’ve become Zoom Zombies over the last couple of years. I left the coaches with a task which was to provide me with their views on how the game should actually be played, which indeed filters in to building out their coaching philosophy…. You can’t believe in one thing and try to coach another, there’ll be too much conflict, not enough engagement!
What became wholly apparent is that I want to leave here with a structured, robust and sustainable business model in place. This will include the coaching structure, the curriculum and of course the pricing model.
I’m looking forward to Day Three where we’ll begin to build out the structure of the business and put our plans on paper.
Aside from the mountain of kids’ equipment I brought with me, we began a little shopping too, which included a whiteboard and some pool noodles…happy days…😁. These are two pieces of equipment that a Coach can’t do without!
We made it to the driving range where I spent the morning with the coaches, watching them coach a mixture of adults and kids. One of the key outcomes is to create their “Academy Philosophy” creating an identity for students to relate to…they have to know what they’re signing up for!
Building out the business model is key for coaches and students; ultimately an effective one creates sustainability and increased participation.
We spent the afternoon in clubhouse bringing that philosophy to life and actually creating the skeleton curriculum for the kid’s program. It looks as though this academy will have a strong physical element to it, whilst also incorporating life skills and behaviours. We’re left now with building out each individual session for the next 2 years, from our program resources! The day certainly concluded with the team understanding the pathway that they’ve created and the realisation that they can see how to deliver a program that creates a high level of engagement.
Stay tuned for further updates!
DAY 4 & 5
The weather is beginning to turn from the fairly unsettled conditions we’ve had over the first few days and the sun is beginning to shine down.
What a fantastic opportunity the team has in the region, by bringing a structure to clubs that will foster growth, participation and engagement across all age groups.
We visited a couple of new facilities with a view to creating additional hubs and it was was exciting to see the potential, with next to nothing in place at the moment.
The first Masterclass was delivered on Friday for the 10-12 age group and although we only had 4 kids it was great 3 hour session. It enabled not only the kids to benefit from it but also the coaching team who witnessed the process and structure of group coaching. The philosophy was brought to life by creating an environment where the kids feel empowered to be creative in the search for solutions to the challenges we’d set them. The games we set up created that opportunity and it’s actually the process the kids go through (in order to score more points or be better at the games) that is the real fun part. These moments of overcoming, feeling like they’ve worked hard to figure it out for themselves are deposited into savings account of the Bank of Engagement!
It was important for the coaches to see how easy it is to jump in too early and just give them the answer instead of letting them struggle for a while as they go through the process of acquiring new skills. The learning cycle must be allowed to evolve if the kids are to develop and improve their skills, which means letting them play! This situation fosters an inquisitiveness that means that the Coach becomes part of their solution, and actually, we’re technically invited to begin coaching when the kids start asking questions….ah…the sweetest of learning.
What a great day!
DAY 6 & 7
After a hugely successful Friday, with the first Leadbetter Kids Masterclass being delivered, Saturday morning saw the 7 to 9-year-olds participate in their three-hour class.
It was certainly a fun morning, both kids and coaches learning a lot, and evolving throughout the session.
One of the key learning points from a coaching perspective was that the guys recognised moments when they would’ve normally jumped in to help the kids; instead, they held themselves back, they let the activity evolve which enabled the kids go deeper into the learning pit! As I explained afterward during our debrief, as coaches (and indeed parents) we must allow the kids to struggle, to feel frustrated…you’re always there to catch them to an extent, but unless they feel those things they’ll never develop a sense of responsibility for their own progress and indeed they won’t feel as accomplished at the end. Getting to this “sweet spot” of learning is where the magic happens! As soon as they start asking questions and seeing you as part of the solution, you can start coaching them on their terms.
Both sessions over the weekend proved to be successful and there is genuine excitement within the community with what is going on at the Parys Golf Club & Estate. There’s a play day next weekend to further engagement and attract more kids, and thereafter the regular curriculum will begin, with the newly created business model being applied.
Over the next few days, the team will be working on the technology, website and booking system ready for the start. A great supporting system enables the coaches to coach more and to interact more within the community, instead of spending extra hours doing admin!
It has been an amazing trip, I’ve met so many great people and experienced a lot of new things; I’m certainly looking forward to the next time I get to visit. Our relationship with the team is very strong and we’ll continue to support and encourage their success over the coming weeks and months. It’s truly exciting what they’re creating here, and it will be great to witness the growth in participation at all levels.
The community will benefit from this for sure, but it’s kids who have this amazing opportunity ahead of them, playing a sport for the rest of their lives that will offer so much.