Mechiel Versluis is a Dutch elite rower with the ‘Holland Eight’, who are preparing for the Olympic Games, but Mechiel, who is also studying the Master in Coaching, is already thinking beyond Rio
It is so special to realize we are going to Rio with the men’s Holland Eight rowing team! Only seven teams in the world can compete in the Olympics, and we as the Netherlands are one of them! We have a good chance at the Olympics. In the last World Cup we won a bronze medal behind England and Germany. These are the big rowing nations and they will be our biggest rivals in Rio. My expectation in Rio is that it will be a close call, and therefore very exciting to follow!
Rowing is not only a beautiful sport to watch, but it is also fantastic to do. The Netherlands has a large group of terrific rowing talents. In the past I was active in the ‘four without coxswain’, and now I have made the transition to the Holland Eight. By combining the ‘four without coxswain’ group, in which we participated at the top level, we saw an excellent opportunity to form a strong team for the Olympics.
Looking at new talents in rowing, I see a lot of talent for Tokyo 2020. It is important to guide these rowers in the best possible way. This guidance is often done by volunteer coaches with a big sporting heart. However, the associations should invest in professionalizing and working with coaches who are able to give guidelines for the clubs and the volunteer coaches. All the coaches should be supported and taught how to bring rowing to a higher level. Furthermore, I see opportunities to have more clubs in the Netherlands. We have so much beautiful water that can be rowed on, and rowing can be promoted much better. Many individuals still do not know how beautiful this sport is!
After Rio, I would like to transfer my rowing knowledge and experience to others. That’s why I’m study the Master in Coaching at Johan Cruyff Institute. During this study program I am able to develop myself. You also learn from fellow classmates: coaches of different sports, but also managers and entrepreneurs from the business and education sectors. I have learned that I should focus more on the coaching process, rather than going for solutions too quickly. Also, I look at other coaches more consciously. What makes a successful coach? What would I do differently as a coach? By considering these aspects, I’ll be able to develop my own coaching style.
At this moment, it is quite difficult to combine coaching with our rowing program. For now, I would like us to row our best race with the team in Rio. Everything is dedicated to that. But in the future I actually see myself starting as federation (head) coach!
This column was recently published in Telesport, a Dutch newspaper that is offering two scholarships – one for the Master in Sport Management and one for the Master in Coaching – for the 2016-17 academic year at Johan Cruyff Institute. By doing so, Telesport contributes to the mission of Johan Cruyff Institute to educate the next generation of leaders in sport management. Check it out by clicking here
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