By Tony Mariadass
Former middle distance queen Josephine Mary Singarayar after having groomed her two children to become athletes, she is now embarking on talent identification to create a bigger pool of athletes from her home state, Perak.
The 47-year old Josephine who is married to former national middle distance runner Samson Vallabuoy, both who hogged the limelight in the 80s, has coached her two daughters Jocelyn 18 and Sheeren 16 to become state and national athletes respectively.
Josephine, was selected and nominated by Malaysian Athletic Federation and the Olympic Committee of Malaysia to undergo a two months coaching course at the Delaware University in collaboration of the US National Olympic Committee under the International Coaches Enhancement Certificate Programme last year.
She attended the course where 35 participants from different countries around the world attended, where she had opportunity to mingle and share opinions, gain new ideas and techniques besides being guided and trained by top international trainers as well as university lecturers with latest knowledge on athletics development.
The intended outcome is for ICECP participants to return to their countries and to serve as coaches within their respective sports as well as become foundation builders for future coaches and athletes while spreading the Olympic Spirit.
ICECP comprises the following four modules which includes the two weeks at the University of Delaware. The second which enables the coach to develop their coaching skills during an apprenticeship in their respective sport. The third module will be held at the USOC’s Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs while the final module will take place at the International Olympic Committee headquarters in Lausanne
“In order to complete this course every participant is required to conduct a project in their respective countries and have to submit and present in person to the panel. The proposal that I made is to identify the challenges being faced in grass root development and to make suggestions and proposals to overcome through a short term and long term program for primary schools in Perak in particular and Malaysia generally,” said Josephine who is currently in the panel of national coaches and was also the chaperon for the Singapore Sea Games athletics contingent last year.
“In order to initiate this proposal I had also conducted a study through a pilot project with two secondary school children aged 13 in Perak and conducted a talent identification activity focused on athletics. In the process I had also attempted to educate and train a pool of volunteer Physical Education teachers on the techniques of carrying out talent identification on their students while conducting PE lessons in schools,” added Josephine who has been the Perak State coach since 2011 and was the national coach for the 15th IAAF World Junior championship in Oregon, USA in 2014.
“On the data and information collected, I have compiled a working paper which outlines the underlying problems on TID in this country and the necessary affirmative action that needs to be addressed by the respective authorities so as to formulate a standard policy change in order to revamp the current physical education program in schools.
“It is my personal opinion, if these suggestions are given attention, there is a high possibility that young and talented athletes could mushroom, who in turn will be possible back up material for the nation.
“It is also my mission to increase the pool of young talented youths/athletes and thus adopt a long term training program from grassroots to specific for these athletes where we can see some impressive results along the way as they progress. In addition to this, I am also trying to establish links between sports and local athletic clubs.”
Josephine, has represented the nation in six Sea Games (1983 – 1993), three Asian Track and Field (ATF) championships (1987-1991) and two Asian Games 1986-1990) still holds the 800m national record set at the Seoul Asian Games in 1986 where she won the bronze medal in a time of 2:07.44. She has also competed in the world championship in 1984 in Rome, Commonwealth Games in Auckland in 1990 and six Sea Games (1983-1993).
Josephine said being an active athlete for almost 15 years had given her wide knowledge and experience to understand on the development in athletics.
“I started my athletic carrier when I was 13 years old and gained interest in sports through my dedicated PE teachers who motivated and supported me all the way. But alarmingly these days the scenario has completely reversed, as we hardly see children or youths very keen, thrilled or excited to take part in sports. This in a way has resulted into problems like obesity, drug menace, gang fights and other bad elements.
“The passion and love for sports had kept me going even after retirement.
“Having glued the term ‘athletic is the mother of all sports’ in my mind, I kept my passion ongoing and thus initiated this talent identification programme to support and identify young and talented athletes in Perak.
“Being born as a Perakian, I felt now was the time for me to contribute towards developing athletics in Perak, as Perak used to be a power house in athletics during the 70s and 80s, when notable ‘giants’ were produced. It is my strong belief essentially to produce a world class athlete, it has to erupt from ‘grassroots’ with a systematic and well planned long term footing.”