18. #TuksSquash: Squash coaches at Tuks strive to make a difference
There is a good reason why the TuksSquash coaches love using the phrase “Green to Gold”.
In a nutshell, it describes precisely what motivates them to spend hours on court getting players to master the finer skills of the game without ever losing focus that squash should be fun playing.
Green is a reference to the youngsters starting out playing squash knowing absolutely nothing about the game and gold to those who will potentially go on to become champions.
The TuksSquash head of the program, Liz Mackenzie, has already been at it for 30 years. She is still as fervent as the first day she started coaching.
“As a coach, you get to change people’s lives for the better, and that is the real reward of my job.”
According to Mackenzie the TuksSquash junior program has developed over the past 16 years following various “Skillz Based” programs.
“The aim is to get youngsters enthusiastic about the squash from a young age. Players as young as five start out playing ‘mini squash’. Between the ages of 9 – 12 players progress to the ‘Squash Factory program’ and finally once the players have reached a provincial level they are on the Spass Basix-program.
“‘Spass’ means fun in German. The idea is to get players to master specific drills and skills which will enable them to be genuinely competitive.
“It seems to be working. A 100 plus of our players got top ten rankings in their respective national categories since we started the program. Numerous of them also went on to represent provincial and national teams.
“All of our coaches are fully qualified. An added benefit for the Tuks players is that they have access to the support services of the High-Performance Centre,”
“A big highlight for us this year was when Helena Coetzee got selected to represent South Africa at the World Junior Championships. She fared well, considering that most of her opponents were semi-professional.
“Six of our players also got selected for the South African Schools Team that will be participating in two international tournaments from next week in Malaysia.”
Mackenzie, however, emphasised that at TuksSquash it will never only be about winning matches.
“We are passionate about getting the players to perform at their best, no matter what level they are. Anyone is welcome to join the club and follow the pathway they consider to be best for them.”
Mackenzie, who is appointed as a Level One Tutor in Africa by the World Squash Federation, prefers not to answer the question as to how long she intends to keep on coaching.
“There are so many milestones I still want to achieve. I truly don’t know when I am going to stop coaching. Every time a new youngster step onto the court for the first time, and I see their sense of expectation, I get motivated all over again.”