Sasol and Wheelchair Basketball South Africa hosted a Coaching Excellence Workshop

The Sasol Coaching Excellence Training workshops were recently hosted by Sasol and Wheelchair Basketball South Africa, where Head Coach, Lawrence “Trooper” Johnson held foundation training sessions with local wheelchair basketball coaches to establish a positive platform for players. 

In recent years we have witnessed a significant increase in the popularity of wheelchair basketball in the sports fraternity, with more players aspiring to be a part of the national men and women’s teams. This phenomenon has been even more so since 2022 when Coach Trooper took over as head coach of both teams.

Coach Trooper, who has a long list of accomplishments and experience, explained the importance of the coaching sessions. “The goal was to provide consistent coaching instruction to coaches across South Africa so that they would all have the fundamental knowledge required to coach wheelchair basketball. Coaches participated in a five-week online training programme prior the workshop as well as on-court training in all aspects of wheelchair basketball. This included learning how to correctly transfer a person into- and out of a sports wheelchair and basic maintenance. Topics of significant importance were introduction to coaching philosophy, running drills, and team principles. The coaches in attendance were also placed in sporting wheelchairs to learn from the perspective of a wheelchair user. All coaches learned how to execute drills, and by the end of the session, they could coach some aspects of the sport to their peers.

“I believe as we grow the sport throughout South Africa, there must be consistent basic knowledge of the sport, among the coaches and creating the prospect for the coaches who want to advance in the sport to get opportunities to broaden their knowledge of the game,” Coach Trooper continued.

The Sasol National Teams will compete in various tournaments in 2023, including the IWBF Women’s U25 Wheelchair Basketball World Championship, to be held in Bangkok, Thailand in October, and the Africa Para Games, where the Men’s Senior team will represent South Africa in Ghana in September.

Coach Trooper explained why 2023 is so important for the National Teams. “This year is significant for the National Teams, and our key initial goal is to transform the sport’s culture. There is so much talent in South Africa, and we need to reconsider how we organize trials to ensure we can choose the finest teams possible. That will take time, but we must begin right away”.

Coach Trooper also discussed the necessity of having players that are hungry for the game, including the characteristics that coaches should look for when selecting players for teams. “I search for a few items – integrity, a willingness to work, the capacity to solve problems, and a love for the game are all required. We’ve been put in a position where you’re expecting athletes to prepare on their own and come up to a camp and play.”

Coach Trooper concludes the conversation by describing his path since taking over as Head Coach. “I’ve had a great time on my journey. I’ve met some amazing people and learned a lot from the players and the program. I am highly hopeful about the men’s and women’s teams, as well as the programme we are rolling out. I believe we can change the players’ mindsets, and through the try-out process, we can involve some individuals who may have been neglected in the past, raising the level of competitiveness for South African teams.”

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