Salam Alaykom and Khalas!

This year is turning into a bit of a whirlwind of travelling as since January I have visited 8 different countries (only one of them purely for pleasure, the rest for work).

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Nice welcome to the hotel lobby!

My latest overseas adventure was to the Kingdom of Bahrain to run a UCI Level 1 Coaching course for Bahrain Cycling Federation (BCF). It was the first time that I had visited an Arabic speaking country and my first time to the Gulf so I was looking forward to the experience. I was also looking forward to escaping the cold UK weather for some warmer climes although the forecast 45 degrees was a little warmer than ideal for me.

I arrived in Bahrain International airport at around 7:30pm and despite the air-conditioned steps leading off the plane I was struck by the heat as soon as I stepped off the plane-still 35 degrees even at this time of night! I was met by Mr Yusef, an official from the BCF, and whisked away to my hotel for my stay (also the venue for the course). We drove around the capital city Manama, which at night is impressively illuminated by light displays on almost every building, passing the Formula 1 circuit on the way.

The group of coaches and a few of the Bahrain Cycling Federation officials.

The group of coaches and a few of the Bahrain Cycling Federation officials.

The following day I was asked to attend a lunch with the Presidents of the six Gulf nations’ cycling federations (Bahrain, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates) and then the course began. As usual, the first thing that I did was to ask for more information about the coaches in the room-it turned out that most were National coaches in some form and they represented 11 different nations, including one (Ruslan Useynov) from Uzbekistan.

Not so usual was the fact that I was working with a translator and although Salem did a great job throughout the course this definitely pushed me to adapt my usual style somewhat as I had to rely on Salem to pass on the messages that I was trying to give and that the coaches were trying to give me. As I found out, working with a translator is a great exercise in speaking concisely!

The group sessions worked well and stimulated lots of discussion.

The group sessions worked well and stimulated lots of discussion.

Throughout the course we had classroom based sessions for most of the day and a practical coaching session in the late afternoon (as the temperature began to drop later on). I always like to give coaches practical exercises to do but it was crucial in this case with a fairly long time inside each day so there were plenty of group tasks, challenges and games designed to make the coaches do some thinking.

As I said many of the coaches were working as National coaches in some form but they weren’t used to coaching techniques so this is where the practical sessions focussed. A session where everyone had to coach without talking was a highlight and really got their attention and after that they started to think creatively and came up with some great sessions.

Throughout my time in Bahrain I was very well looked after by the BCF officials as well as the coaches on the course. I thoroughly enjoyed meeting them and would like to thank them all for their hard work and help-they even taught me a few useful Arabic words.

As for Bahrain itself, it is a great place to visit if you like warm weather (if not, pick your time and go early in the year when it is cooler but still warm compared to the UK). The people are very friendly and can’t wait to help and to show you their country which they are very proud of. The hotels are very nice too.

Next stop on my travels is Korea where I will be working with the Korean Cycling Federation and their BMX coaches-I’ll try to update the blog during the trip with some of the interesting/amazing/beautiful things that I am sure to find 🙂

 

Having a rooftop pool at the end of the day was a bonus!

Having a rooftop pool at the end of the day was a bonus!

Teddy Habchy from Lebanon getting creative for his session.

Teddy Habchy from Lebanon getting creative for his session.

Ajit Singh from India introducing a coaching session.

Ajit Singh from India introducing a coaching session.