Athletics Coaching in Denmark
The Award in Sports Coaching has been developed as part of CoachEd6, an Erasmus+ funded project with the sole aim to react to the existing gaps identified by both literature and practice in the field of sports coaching. The partners in this project are MCAST (Malta) as the lead partner together with the University of Southern Denmark (Denmark), Muğla Sıtkı Koçman Üniversitesi (Turkey), Reykjavik University (Iceland) and International Council for Coaching Excellence (ICCE, UK).
Through this Erasmus+ programme, as a learner, I had the opportunity to carry out a job shadowing experience in Denmark together with my colleague and friend Tiziana Zammit. Our stay in Denmark started with the weekend school at the Southern University of Denmark (SDU) in Odense leaded by Dr Andreas Küttel and Prof. Louise Kamuk Storm where we had lectures, guest speakers and discussions on performance analysis and testing, followed by a visit to the testing facilities of the Department of Sports Science and Clinical Biomechanics at SDU.
Throughout our stay in Denmark, we had the opportunity to gain a better understanding of the athletics set up; from grassroots to elite training, at Ungdomschef Odense Atletik (OGF) in Odense and Kobenhavn Idraets Forening (KIF) in Copenhagen. In both Clubs, I had the opportunity to observe and assist during their morning summer camp programmes for children aged 6 to 15years. In the afternoon, I observed the senior teams training in both sprinting and middle-long distance running where I interviewed the coaches about training, testing and performance. I was also given the opportunity to give my input during the training sessions. The KIF coach shared his experience with his group about their trip to Iten in Kenya, last February where they trained with Wilsons Kipketers old coach and also visited Eliud Kipchoge.
My reflections following this experience is that Denmark is a great country to look up to. We can all learn from each other. Countries, irrespective of their population size and landscape, still face challenges. Same as in Malta, athletics in Denmark is not the most popular sport with around eight thousand athletes in total. Two of the main challenges are the lack of proper indoor tracks and knowledgeable coaches with the youth categories. However, they are successful at keeping more athlete in the sports for longer. This is because children have the opportunity for free play, performing various sports at a young age with a late specialization in sports and opportunities to follow a dual career. Moreover, daily physical activity is promoted through infrastructure such as bike lanes, and open sports facilities accessible for free to the public.
We should strive to create a healthy community between coaches to share their knowledge and experience with the sole aim to keep the population active and involved in the sport community and raise the bar in sports at an International level. I am grateful for the Danish coaches to have shared deep insight about athletics in Denmark and their coaching experiences. Lastly, special thanks to the Danish people for the warm welcome, help and support throughout our stay; Dr Andreas Küttel (SDU), Prof. Louise Kamuk Storm (SDU), Ms Louise Majgaard Baarup (OGF), Mr Martin de Almeida (OGF), Mr Torben Laursen (KIF), Ms Alberte Ulrik (KIF) and Mr Jesper Mølgaard (KIF).