We can all relate to being the new member of a team. Whether it was your first day at a new school or your first day at a multinational corporation, the same principles apply. But what of the teacher, manager or coach whose job it was to ensure you slotted in seamlessly to your new surroundings? CONQA delves in to the unique facet of leadership
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Are hierarchies inevitably formed whenever a group of individuals unite for the purpose of a common goal? Do they represent key structural components for a successful organisation or do they hinder progress and lead to cliques and discontent amongst the ranks? These are just some of the answers we tackle with mental skills coach Tom Dawson-Squibb.
After our conversation with Professor Jennifer Chatman from the University of California, Berkeley, we have become entangled in the complexities a leader faces when confronted with a multi-cultural team. With the help of two of South Africa’s greatest sports leaders, we unpack the conversation even further to get to the heart of this unique challenge.
In these modern times, it seems the best teams have every basis covered when it comes to backroom staff. There’s the obvious strength and conditioning expert alongside a mental coach, but rosters are swelling at an alarming rate that we won’t be surprise when teams start employing a designated hairdresser or dog walker for their pampered stars. More people can mean more headaches for a head coach as managing different personalities is a challenge all on its own. With the help of Terry Condon, a man with experience managing teams within teams, CONQA unpacks the unique skillsets required to be a modern manager.
The Crusaders are just four matches away from completing a remarkable unbeaten season in Super Rugby. Their success has been built on an innovative approach to maintaining and increasing fitness as the long gruelling season has progressed. CONQA speaks to Simon Thomas, head off strength and conditioning at the franchise.
The South African Blitzboks need at least a Cup quarterfinal appearance in each of their remaining two tournaments to be crowned champions of the 2016-17 World Rugby Sevens Series. However, such premature talks of titles can prove derailing and in an exlusive interview with CONQA, coach Neil Powell explains how his team is maintaining their focus.
The true test for any elite athlete is bouncing back from adversity. For the Lions half back pair of Elton Jantjies and Faf de Klerk, the climb up from last season’s poor showing with the national side will be an arduous journey. With high performance coach, Tim Goodenough, CONQA explores the process of rebuilding confidence to return to the top.
It’s a throwaway term for pundits and scribes whenever a coach bumbles his way through a press conference after his team has lost another game, but what does “losing the dressing room” actually mean? CONQA Sport explores this fascinating concept and calls on two legends in their field to help out. Next time you hear this phrase, you will have a better understanding of its meaning and nuance.
If something is broken it must be fixed. How a coach or manager seeks to do so can either steady the ship or send it to the brink much sooner than anticipated. Wholesale changes might grab headlines and demonstrate that the person in charge is being proactive, but almost always it is much wiser to implement incremental changes to steadily improve every facet of performance.
Long before sport turned professional, elite athletes have acted as ambassadors for the societies they represent. As such, they have been labelled as role models and moral compasses whether or not they are deserving of those titles. But is this fair? Do we as the public hold our athletes to impossible standards not reserved for any other industry? How does being a role model impact performance and is the status even worth pursuing? CONQA Sport answers these questions and more.
Elite sport is cutthroat industry where the only thing that matters is the success of the team. Coaches and managers who fail to meet the expectations of fans and stake holders all too often get the sack. This can be a difficult and painful process. Stuart Lancaster knows what this feels like as he was axed as England Rugby’s head coach last year and has been replaced by Eddie Jones. Jones has enjoyed a successful start to his tenure but as CONQA Sport discovers, part of that success may be due to an unprecedented show of maturity and goodwill from Lancaster. Hopefully, his selfless act can used as a model for coaches and federations in the future.
Allister Coetzee has been appointed the 23rd Springbok rugby coach and has immediately sought to establish an era marked with youth and excitement. With an average age of just under 26 years, this is a team that might lack experience but has all the potential for something truly great. What Coetzee will need to do is unify all 31 players under a single ethos – perhaps the most challenging task for any head coach or manager of a national team.
Gianni Infantino, the newly appointed president of FIFA, has said he wants soccer to consider video replay trials “sooner rather than later”. The beautiful game has lagged behind with the implementation of this technology, and while it will be broadly welcomed, it should take a few lessons from cricket and rugby to make sure the trials and subsequent implementation goes smoothly.
Sport is a business, so the old saying goes, and subsequently those involved, including coaches and athletes, are business men and women. That might not appeal to the idealistic notions surrounding the games we love, but to look squarely at the truth, cold hard cash still runs the show. Eddie Jones came and left Cape Town like a tourist, and while it is easy to lambast him for being greedy, it was a sound business decision. Perhaps it tells us something about where coaches value the international game, compared to franchise competitions.
How many of us have the confidence and self-belief to truly be a superstar? How many of us could attempt a seemingly impossible play in front of thousands of people, knowing that millions more are watching on TV around the world? The truth is, only a handful of humans go down in history as world class athletes. These champions share certain qualities; skill, a drive to win, passion. CONQA Sport explores a particular trait that is required to be the best – ego, and finds that the line between confidence and arrogance is as fine as the line between success and failure.
They say an army marches on its stomach, well then so does the future of a nation’s sporting ambitions. There is no such thing as a successful elite athlete who goes to bed hungry. Could the solution to South Africa’s transformation problem be found on the empty dinner plates of hungry children? Are quotas and government interventions providing results, or are we merely papering over gaping cracks that are indicative of an unequal society? CONQA Sport explores the relationship between transformation and nutrition and finds that the challenges we face are heavier than first imagined.
No one loves cricket more than Indians. The same could be said of New Zealanders and rugby. Ditto for Canadians and ice hockey. Certain nations have forged a part of their identity around a particular sport that it's impossible to mention one without the other. But how would a new sport wriggle its way into the psyche of a population and forge its own identity in a community besotted with a particular pastime? CONQA Sport explores this conundrum by finding out whether this is done through success in competition, the formation of a community, social upliftment, youth development, or an amalgamation of different variables.
"In rugby, men are missiles," so said sports journalist and sexologist Ernest Crawley in 1913. If only he could see them now. As the years have gone by, particularly after the injection of professionalism in the late '90s, those missiles have become nuclear warheads. Monsters crash into monsters for 80 minutes and the pace and force of the game has become relentless. And we love it. But what are the ramifications of the ever increasing forces rugby players exert on each other? Should we, as sports fans, be concerned? CONQA Sport speaks to Paddy Anson, Head of Strength and Conditioning at Gloucester Rugby, and explores the negative impact of expanding athletes. How has it affected the way the game is played and is there a warning from the NFL that rugby should be taking seriously?
Cinderella stories, fairy tale results, no-hopers inspiring hope; whenever an underdog manages to upset a much better and accomplished rival in sport we can’t help but get romantic about the games we love. By its definition, an upset takes us all by surprise and throws egg on the face of so-called experts and allows the few that somehow managed to predict the result to say, “I told you so.” But can we draw any parallels between famous upsets and if so, can we use these common themes to predict future upsets? CONQA Sport explores the blueprint of a sporting upset.
Have you ever wondered why certain countries seem to stand head and shoulders above others in a particular sport? Rasmus Ankersen, CEO of Danish football club FC Midtjylland, travelled across the world to answer that question. He recorded his observations in a book called The Gold Mine Effect: Crack the Secrets of High Performance (2012) and identified certain ingredients that talent hotbeds around the world share. Using the same theories, CONQA Sport explores how a high school in the middle of South Africa can stake a claim as being the most productive gold mine in world rugby.