Country: Namibia

Profession: Coach

Henk is a former athlete and works closely with the Ministry of Youth and Sports in Namibia to develop the athletic talent in the country. Some of the athletes under his guidance include 400m World Junior Record holder Christine Mboma and Beatrice Masilingi, who have both qualified for the Tokyo Olympic Games.

What was the motivation behind founding Grootfontein Agri College?

We founded Grootfontein Agri College in 2011 with the main purpose to provide education while developing the community and people from Namibia to thrive in this new, modern world of ours.

Unfortunately, Grootfontein Agri College underwent some changes, and so in partnership with the Ministry of Youth and Sports we started a new school named Nova Stella Educational Institute – where we specifically work on the modern child, as well as sports development and total coaching for the management of sports talent.

You started as a discus and shot-put coach, how did the move to sprint coach happen?

My daughter got into shotput and discus and I so was forced to get into coaching throwing! I was a sprinter myself, competing in the 400m and 400mH, so sprints coaching comes more naturally to me and I am more at home with it.

Could you describe your coaching philosophy?

My coaching philosophy is to coach the total child. It doesn’t matter how talented the child is, but I believe on having a focus on just increasing your best and giving your best. By increasing your best and personal targets, you will reach the heights set for yourself.

What did you see in Christine and Beatrice that made you know they were world class sprinters?

I actually didn’t identify Christine, she was given to me by the Ministry of Youth and Sports. But when I saw her, I knew she was a special athlete. The first time I saw Beatrice, I just knew that she was a bundle of talent and that she could take the world on. So, we started the journey together and now 3 years later, we are so proud to stand with them at the beginning of their professional careers.

The coach/athlete relationship is such a special one – what advice would you have for young coaches as they try build this relationship with their athletes?

I believe that the relationship aspect is as important as the training itself, and there is a psychological side that you need to attend to. An athlete with a healthy mind will obviously perform better. The relationship we have is not only as coach and athlete. It is more like a father/daughter relationship, and this is for all the athletes.

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