Surviving coups – Lately, as knowledge of my upcoming departure made its way through the Taekwondo family in Rwanda, a few individuals decided to flex their muscles and attempt a leadership coup d’ etat. This has been very difficult on me, to say the least, as I have watched those I consider as sons and daughters attack and malign each other. Their efforts are mostly rooted in jealousy and selfish ambition and by God’s grace the federation has survived and the family itself is putting the pieces back together. The structures in place have mostly worked. The education provided did expose some needed risk management changes (another post on another day). Importantly, it showed us that if you are not busy building; others will busy themselves to begin tearing down and building sport means engaging the sport or in other words, actually participating.
Not too old to play – I have always enjoyed competing, and especially have enjoyed competing well. I love the training! I always knew I could train harder than others and have a good chance to win on the day of competition. I am relatively new to the sport of Taekwondo and must say I have thoroughly enjoyed learning how to train in it and train others as well. So, when this year’s African Championships came along in Morocco at the end of March, I jumped at the opportunity to represent Rwanda as one of the old guys on the team. Not to worry, my wife ended my days of sparring after me breaking my arm while competing against one of the world’s better players in the Rwandan national championships two years ago (I did get bronze, and did show them that age is a number BTW). Now I am relegated to competing in poomsae (or forms), routines used for advancement. You will be spared the technical details of the preparations, but I must say that I really have missed having something to train for. Well it all paid off and I won third place against the continent for my beloved Rwanda and helped bring home a third place trophy as well. Yeah, Rwanda!
I guess that makes me a true international sportsman as I have competed while in Honduras in soccer, Togo in golf, Rwanda in Taekwondo, and of course the US.
Remembering the why and finding the joy – You see, if you aren’t actively participating, you might forget what sport is about, particularly about having fun! Sport management can too quickly become about budgets, events, sponsors, expenses, and strategic plans. Ideally, those should all be secondary as tools or particular means to an end.
Yesterday, I gathered several masters together and we participated. We did the sport, together. We had lunch together. We dreamed together. We kicked and hit each other too (the pure fun of Taekwondo to be sure). It was all smiles by the end. That was our aha moment. When we remembered what made us a family in the first place. We remembered that this particular sport in this particular country had been used by God to make friends out of enemies and to build trust where fear had reigned.
so we will just do it next Saturday too!