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Coaching the coaches: A fresh new innings for Gary Kirsten

Former Proteas opener and coach Gary Kirsten has found an innovative way to teach aspiring cricket coaches – by launching a unique online coaching and accreditation platform.

FILE: Gary Kirsten has now turned his attention to training the coaches. Picture: EWN

CAPE TOWN - Gary Kirsten is no stranger to success as a player and as a coach. In 2011 he became the only South African to lay hands on the Cricket World Cup trophy to date – when he coached India to victory on their home soil.

As a batsman, Kirsten amassed a total of 7,289 Test and 6,798 ODI runs, including a 14 and a half hour shift against England in Durban in 1999, in which he scored 275 runs.

Since retirement, the former Proteas left-hand opener, who was stubborn with the bat, has spent more than a decade coaching at the highest levels of the game, in a two-year stint as Proteas national coach from 2011 to 2013.

Kirsten has now turned his attention to training the coaches, an area of cricket he believes needs some improvement. “I would like to see a lot more coaching improvement at schoolboy level. I think a lot of the coaches deployed in those areas require upskilling,” Kirsten said in an interview with EWN Sport.

He has found an innovative way to teach aspiring cricket coaches – by launching a unique online coaching and accreditation platform.

“CoachED was launched out of an opportunity. We thought ‘can you imagine if you could design a course that didn’t have levels attached to it, but was filled with content and information, and all aspects of coaching, and that the whole course could be done online’,” he said.

“You can basically just go onto the website (www.coachedcricket.com) and you will find all the information that you need. You can have access to the library of information that is available, or you can have access to the complete accreditation. Once you’ve done the accreditation, it sends a message to people that you have completed a fairly significant course, and will qualify you to be able to coach that under-13 A team and do a good job.”

Kirsten, who played 101 Test matches and 185 ODIs for South Africa, said CoachED would allow young coaches to be able to make a career out of coaching anywhere in the world. “South African cricket has moved as much as they can to create a rigorous coaching accreditation as possible, and these things take time. We’re seeing a lot of young coaches in South Africa at the moment. That’s going to shift and change as we move on another 10 years from now,” Kirsten said.

Aspiring coaches can sign up for the programme and in the end receive a recognised qualification once completed.

Kirsten hopes that this initiative will raise the standard of coaching in South Africa and allow promising young coaches to stay in the South African system and move up the ranks to franchise and national level. “We’re hoping coaches will be able to take this knowledge and use it whether he or she is coaching the under-12 B team at a Curro school or at an under-19 A school team in India.”

Kirsten, who won the 2011 Cricket World Cup as coach of India, said international coaching was an uncompromising space, with very little room for mediocrity. “I think coaching at the upper levels should be all about excellence, and it should be about getting the best practitioners that are out there to do the jobs. It’s important that guys get experience in the coaching space,” he said. “I think there’s a lot that can be done, especially with our elite cricketing schools in the country.”

So, what makes a good coach, according to Kirsten. “I think setting up a team environment where a higher percentage of individuals in that team can thrive with their talents and abilities that they have. At a schoolboy or schoolgirl level, it goes deeper than that. If you’re a school coach your number one priority is that when they’re finished under your leadership that they absolutely love the game and want to continue playing. Also, your responsibility as a coach is to ensure that every player improves at least 5-10%.”