ITU Level 2 Coaching Course – Incheon, South Korea (12-18 November 2017)

In November, I was fortunate to be selected to attend an International Level 2 triathlon Coaching course which took place in Incheon, South Korea. This course was fully funded by the Korean Olympic committee (KOC) and the Korean Triathlon Union (KTU), with the International Triathlon Union (ITU) providing the facilitators.

Coaches attending were an international mix from countries such as Belarus, Brazil, Chile, India, Iran, Italy, Jordan, Nigeria, Portugal, Rwanda, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Tunisia, United Kingdom, Zimbabwe.

An ITU Level 1 coaching course took place the week prior to the Level 2 course. The courses overlapped by a day and the attendees of both courses got to spend a day together where we were treated to a trip into Seoul. We visited the Gyeongbokgung Palace, (built in 1395 in Northern Seoul) the main royal palace of  the Joseon dynasty, according to the formality established in the 15th Century. We also witnessed ‘The Ceremony of the Gate Guard Change’ (this takes place every two hours) In an attempt for visitors to understand the Korean history, the colourful uniforms, weapons and accessories of the gate guards are fully re-enacted based on historical research. We visited the National Palace Museum of Korea and got to see many Koreans wearing their national costume.

It is Autumn there and very cold. The trees were littered with such beautiful vibrant red, orange and yellow coloured leaves.

We were then treated to a very interesting dining experience in Seoul. The day was a great ‘ice-breaker’ as we got to meet many of the participants which we were to spend the week with.

Challenges were many, pre-course online assignments needed to be completed before being accepted to attend. These included Ethical Coaching reflection; the Role of the Coach; Understanding Population Groups; Safeguarding, Safety and Welfare; Challenging Environment assignment; Coaching Process and Skills Development; Pedagogy and Skills reflection task; Sports Science Quiz and a WADA anti-doping assignment.

On Day one already, my name had changed from Viv to Vivi, due to ease of pronunciation apparently.

By the first group assignment, I can become known as Fiffi, where it stayed for the duration of the course, to the amusement of my South African colleagues.

Once in Incheon, we attended five full days of lectures and challenging group and individual practical assignments. The final day was Group Case presentation day and one-on-one assessments with an assigned facilitator. The course provided much stress, meeting deadlines, preparing and presenting sessions, giving feedback and learning new coaching concepts. Many nights were spent working on group assignments and presentations. Adding to this, never really adapting to the Korean time-zone or the minus 2 degree outdoor temperatures, made for some very exhausted participants. Although the course was presented in English, we were met with language and lack of knowledge barriers. We soon learnt to communicate using ‘full body sign language’, clapping and demonstrating, which provided all with much laughter.

We ate Korean food…yes, even I tried new foods to start with. Buffet breakfasts, lunches and dinners looked lavish and extravagant with all sorts of ‘food from the sea’ offered. I ended up taking the safest route of brown rice and beans with the pasta sauce and sometimes an occasional tiny ‘something’, as I knew my husband would have asked if I had tried anything new.

Post Course, required two assignments -  a planned, presented and analysed video session, together with a Detailed 4-week High Level training programme for a group of athletes

Happy to say that both my assignments have been handed in, marked and passed.

This was an incredible learning and cultural experience for all who attended.