In an exclusive interview, CONQA sat down with the Chief of the Singapore Sports Institute to discuss the small nation’s ambitious plan to be recognised not only as a host to the world, but as a force to be reckoned on courts, tracks, fields and in pools around the world.
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If succeeding as an elite athlete was easy, we’d all be doing it. So many variables have to go exactly right for a young talent to make it to the top. Hard work, struggle, sacrifice; talent means nothing if a young prospect is not willing to go the extra mile. But if what if the key to success meant going further than a mile? What if the path to greatness lay outside the boundaries of one’s home country and was paved in a foreign land? CONQA Sport explores why youth development needs travel and why so many young English footballers are unwilling to leave the nest.
We all know the story of Billy Beane and the Oakland A’s, right? How, using maths, the second poorest team in Major League Baseball went on a record-breaking winning streak and changed the way baseball scouts and general managers operated. The story was turned into a Hollywood blockbuster and the word ‘Moneyball’ became synonymous with statistical analysis in sport. Well, a similar story is underway in football. By combining the roles of head of scouting and head of analysis, Daniel Stenz is changing the game. CONQA Sport spoke with Stenz ahead of his move to the Hungarian Football Federation.
In elite sport, the road to the top is a long and arduous journey. It needs to be filled with sacrifice and commitment, with more than a fair share of luck and talent. Even then, success is not guaranteed. It seems counter-intuitive, but failure is vital for success. Without it, athletes are ill-equipped to deal with the inevitable shortfalls and challenges that are part of the game. If an athlete is progressing along a linear path to the top, it is crucial that an obstacle is placed in the way.
Genuine sporting talent is a commodity very few are blessed with. Even fewer possess the gifts that enable participation and success at the elite level. Like any commodity, talent needs to be nurtured wisely to see it flourish into something tangible. The question is, where should an athlete invest that talent, and how should it be done? CONQA Sport explores the debate between early and late specialisation. Is it better to specialise in one sport as early as possible like Tiger Woods and Andre Agassi, or is the path to success made easier with a multi-disciplined approach like AB de Villiers? The evidence provides some strong conclusions.
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.
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.
Just over a decade ago, Germany were languishing in 22nd place on the FIFA rankings. Thanks to Ulf Schott, Director of Youth Development at the German Football Association, Die Mannschaft now occupy top spot, and aren't showing any signs of moving.