MENTAL HEALTH IN SPORT SEMINAR
The National Olympic Committee of Zambia (NOCZ) has concluded a 2-day Seminar on Mental Health in Sport.
Speaking when delivering the opening remarks yesterday Friday 28 October 2022, NOCZ President Alfred Foloko said that with the rise of mental health-related cases within the country and around the world, he was delighted the Gender Equity Sports Commission of the NOC organized such a remarkable seminar as such programmes supplemented the efforts the NOCZ Board being put in place to address and give the desired attention towards this vice.
“This will definitely mark the beginning of earnestness in sports where mental health is involved as research has shown that 35% of elite athletes suffer from mental health crises prior to the games or post the games, which denotes that athletes face huge amounts of stress and pressure and have to manage lots of different expectations which can have a negative impact on their well-being,” he said.
He further added saying that certainly, mental health is impacting a large portion of athletes and yet, it is still not getting the attention it deserves and athletes are made to feel bad about it if it can be demonstrated that this is indeed a problem but was hopeful that it will help to shift the conversation around mental health and increase awareness of the issue.
The Seminar which attracted over 100 participants from across the country was graced by England-based Munich 1972 Olympic Games in Germany Olympian Beatrice Lungu Cains who got to share her personal experience in sport, she said sport has its own challenges and athletes get to receive both negative and positive remarks from people, but it is up to them to learn to remain focused.
Dr. Maria Akani followed up and spoke on structures and support for mental health, she stated that for athletes to bring out their best they had to be in a conducive environment, she also stated that it was important to help athletes have a preview of places they are going to visit to help them prepare their minds on what they are to find.
She later encouraged the athletes present to remember that winning starts from the mind and any thought of losing would affect their performance during competition.
To kick start Day 2 of the Seminar on Friday 29 October 2022, Gender Equity Sport Commission Member Dionne Rennie Bryan and Alan Zulu from A2Z foundation led a session on self-awareness which was focused on becoming aware of more than one’s strengths and weaknesses.
The session was concluded with words of encouragement and urged everyone present to reflect on what opportunities exist for them in the future. As these could be potential future strengths or potential goal busters that might be obstacles or challenges that hinder goals that the athlete would like to achieve in the future.
Sessions on Mental Health in Sports-Veterinarian led by Dr. Alison Hawke, Nutrition in Mental Health led by Yasmina Dakik Ahmed, and a Panel Discussion on Personal Experiences of Mental Health moderated by Netball Zambia President Martha Sichone for panelists Tara Atalabi, Cherry Muchindu and Richard Mulenga for the first half of the day.
The second half of the day included sessions on Coaching Perspective in Sport led by Cyril Happlethwaite from the Zambia Sports Development Association, Body Awareness led by Itumeleng Beaumont, and Medicine in Mental Health with a particular focus on Anti-doping led by Dr. Shula Chanda.
NOCZ Secretary General Boniface Kambikambi officially closed the seminar and thanked the participants for turning up for this important engagement and the Gender Equity Sport Commission chaired by NOCZ Board Member Susanna Dakik for organizing the Seminar whose focus affects everyone.
He further urged everyone who attended the seminar in person and virtually to pass on the deliberations to their colleagues, friends, and family to raise awareness on mental health issues.