More Seychellois athletes are expected to benefit from high-level training in South Africa through the formalisation of an agreement between the High-Performance Centre (hpc) of the University of Pretoria, South Africa, and Seychelles’ Ministry of Youth, Sports, and Family.
Swimming and athletics competitors will be the first to have the chance to develop their abilities through the agreement. In the future, cyclists and judokas will also benefit from the training programmes.
“We have been working with the hpc for a long time, sending an athlete or two on ad-hoc occasions, but this time, we felt that we need to put things firmly in an agreement. At the same time, we know the hpc and its capability of producing the best. We want our athletes to get the best training and environment,” said Ralph Jean-Louis, the principal secretary for Youth and Sports.
Once athletes have been identified for training, they will travel to Pretoria and stay at the centre. They will have the opportunity to get support for their development and some of hpc’s key strategic partners, such as TuksSport High School for coaching expertise and facilities, and the Sport, Exercise Medicine and Lifestyle Institute (SEMLI) for sport science and medical education.
Jean-Louis added that the overall goal of this agreement is to promote Seychellois athletes so that they can attain their highest level, and it is also in line with the ministry’s strategy to professionalise sports in the 115 islands archipelago in the western Indian Ocean.
The hpc is Southern Africa’s first elite performance sports facility, which was launched in 2002, and is the training ground for sporting champions. Each year the facilities attract international athletes and South African sporting bodies for training camps or specific team preparation.
The hpc has become the preferred location for Team South Africa pre-departure camps, as well as the preferred centre of specialisation for a significant number of South African national federations. It offers academy programmes for several sporting codes.
In an article posted on hpc’s website last week, the TuksSport director and acting CEO of hpc, Steven Ball, acknowledged the collaboration will pave the path to the bigger picture of positioning the hpc as a flagship in Africa for sports performance and the conversation around sports development.
“This is a special moment for me and the institution – the University of Pretoria. We are excited to see some Seychellois athletes at the High-Performance Centre. Such a partnership is built on being open and honest and holding each other accountable with real expectations. So I look forward to seeing where this ends one day.”
Also present for the signing ceremony at the High-Performance Centre in South Africa’s capital city last week was the High Commissioner of Seychelles in South Africa, Claude Morel, who has been instrumental in developing relations up with the hpc.
“Today, we are seeing this initiative materialise to its fruition. I will leave here happy because we know the values, facilities, and structure of the hpc and the University. It is renowned, and it is the best. So this will be an excellent initiative to prepare our athletes, and I hope we will implement the memorandum of understanding we have signed. I will be happy to see new faces here and with our friends from the hpc, which will be a successful venture,” said Ambassador Morel.
Already, two Seychellois track athletes, Denzel Adam and Caleb Vadivello, are following training at hpc. They left the islands in March and are expected back in early May as their training at the centre concludes on April 31. Both are the islands’ medal potentials in the forthcoming 11th Indian Ocean Island Games (IOIG) scheduled to take place later this year in Madagascar from August 23 to September 3.
The agreement with the High-Performance Centre of the University of Pretoria will also open up opportunities for Seychellois athletes with longer-term possibilities, such as scholarships, with the hope of being a crucial partner in assisting one of the smallest countries in the world on its quest to win its first-ever Olympic medal.