Elnara Musayeva used to be the only woman cyclist in Azerbaijan, and now she will be the only woman coach.
“I have about six girls ready to start. They are waiting for me,” she says impatiently. “I have already sent them some training sessions on-line from Switzerland but I can’t wait to go back and begin. I have completely changed my methods, my knowledge and techniques.”
Elnara is one of ten women who have just completed a four-week course tailor-designed for women coaches at the World Cycling Centre in Aigle, Switzerland. Two of the participants passed the Level 1 coaching exam, and the rest of the class passed Level 2.
Hailing from Hong Kong, Salvador, Finland, South Africa, Iran, Croatia, Azerbaijan, Japan and Uganda, the women seized the opportunity to participate in the course given by British Cycling’s Belinda Tarling, former Mountain Bike World Champion and voted best coach educator in Britain last year.
Different profiles, same goals
Four of the course participants are former Olympic cyclists. Others arrived at the World Cycling Centre with a far more modest cycling background. While some are focused on young children, others will be coaching high performance athletes. But all have the same motivation and global goals: to get the best out of the athletes they coach and improve the standards of women coaches worldwide.
To do this, they left no stone unturned: be it classroom work, practical sessions out on the bike, preparing presentations on specific topics or studying in the evening, the 10 women immersed themselves completely in the coaching course.
“It has been an incredible experience,” says their instructor. “They all worked so hard and were very supportive of each other. They continued studying in the evenings and I know there have been some 2am sessions. The course was very intense but they all worked so hard. They have progressed massively.”
"You never stop learning"
South Africa’s Erica Green has been coaching for 10 years but says that the opportunity to attend an exclusively women’s course at the World Cycling Centre was a “dream come true.”
“As a coach, you never stop learning,” she explains. “And coming here, to the centre of cycling, was the most amazing opportunity. The people we are working with are the best in the world. We have been taken out of our comfort zones and our usual habits and been completely focused on coaching.”
Meanwhile the course’s other South African participant, Annerine Wenhold, hopes this course will help her move on from her voluntary work as a part-time mentor for athletes from different sports to that of paid coach: “I already have two athletes to start with and I hope it will grow from there. I would like this to be my career,” says the former track cyclist who works for a petrol chemical company. Most of her voluntary work in sport has been with children in schools and she would like to concentrate on the 14 to 18 age bracket. One of her athletes is a beginner, while the other has already competed in the UCI Junior Track World Championships. Two profiles completely different but the coach’s motivation is the same: “What really attracts me is helping people to achieve goals and improve themselves.”
Although the ten newly-qualified coaches parted ways at the weekend to embrace new phases in their careers, they have no intention of losing contact.
“We have become friends and we will set up a Facebook page so that we can assist each other,” assures Annerine. “We all face challenges now and we can help each other mutually.”
Most have the firm desire to return to the World Cycling Centre to study for the highest coaching qualification: the UCI Coaching Diploma.
Source: UCI Communication