With focused restructuring plan, Seychelles eyes Olympic medal in 2028
The Seychelles team at the Rio Olympics in 2016. (Seychelles Olympic and Commonwealth Games Association)
(Seychelles News Agency) - With the aim of winning a first-ever Olympic medal in 2028, the Seychelles National Sports Council (NSC) is restructuring its high level sports programme and setting up a talent identification section.
The chief executive of the NSC, Jean Larue, told reporters last week that at the moment "we have 24 athletes on the high level programme but as of September 1, we will revise this list and there will be new criteria used to select athletes, based on their performance, potential, ranking, among others."
The 24 athletes on the current programme are in athletics, boxing, sailing, weightlifting, judo and badminton.
Larue said that this approach has been beneficial in many countries and Seychelles must work along the same lines if the country is to win its first ever medal at the Olympic Games in 2028 in Los Angeles.
With an emphasis on boosting performance, the new high performance athlete programme will scout and identify talented athletes who will then be offered the opportunity to take up their respective sport on a professional level.
Although there are 24 athletes on the current high level programme, Seychelles only has a few fully professional athletes. This includes basketball player Abdel Sylla and volleyball player Rodney Ah-Kong, who both plays professionally in France.
|Seychellois basketball player Abdel Sylla is among the professional players in France. (Seychelles Nation) Photo License: CC-BY|
Sylla said that "being a professional is about more than just the athletes, but it is important that you have people to help with all aspects of being an athlete, be it with legal matters, finances and the most important the mental aspect."
Larue agreed and said that in the new structure, NSC will be looking into giving more psychological support to athletes.
"Today, physical preparedness is not the only important thing, but athletes need to be prepared mentally and have a proper diet and this is why the NSC wants to bring in sports science, technology and health in the programme," said Larue.
Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean, does not have professional sports leagues or competitions which means that these athletes will have to go overseas.
Larue said NSC will be working closely with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and that the country's ambassadors and consuls have already agreed to find opportunities for Seychellois athletes in their respective countries.
Such programmes will also require a lot of investment and with the current economic climate, it could prove to be a challenge.
"We do have a number of businesses in Seychelles that have expressed their willingness to support not only the sports but to finance individual athletes as well. The government will not be able to do everything and so such investments from the private sector will greatly help us in pushing our athletes to a higher level," said Larue.