The aim is to address the growing need in the tertiary sport environment to find innovative ways to maximise the training potential of student-athletes who are students first and athletes second.
Grant van Velden, who has been working with Maties teams as a sport scientist and technologist for the past 10 years, was appointed in this position.
“I'm passionate about Maties Sport and I like to see our teams do well and our athletes prosper, on and off the field," says Grant.
“The university sport training environment is very unique and we need to find innovative ways to maximise the training potential of our student-athletes. We have limited time with them due to their academic commitments and therefore the time that we do get to train them has to be effective and efficient. The aim is to utilise technology that can help our student-athletes improve their performances within the time we have available.
“We also don't have an unlimited budget. My responsibility is to look at creative ways to use the technology we have and investigate how we can use it even more efficiently, so that it is used by more teams or used more often.
“It is also necessary to stay in touch with what is happening internationally and locally on the sport technology front," adds Grant.
The most popular technology support options used by Maties Sport athletes at the moment are:
- The VX Sport GPS system (with heart rate monitors) used to measure how hard student athletes play or train, which enables coaches to manage student-athletes' training load effectively;
- The Fusion Sport Smart Speed System used for reactive agility and decision-making training, as well as speed testing;
- The GymAware system which provides accurate measurement of how hard athletes train in the gym and makes it possible to adjust the load according to the athlete's training potential on the day.
“The feedback and buy-in from the coaches, trainers and student-athletes has been amazing," says Grant.
“We have an important role to educate student-athletes about why we use a piece of technology. We are actively using and interpreting the data to maximise their training potential. It helps us to make informed decisions."
The innovative use of technology is just one of the aspects that forms part of the Maties HP programme. Other elements include the PACER programme (an acronym for Persistence, Authenticity, Commitment, Empathy and Resilience), the Injury Clinic at the SU Campus Health Services and access to the Maties HP Gymnasium.
“I believe Maties Sport offers the best all-round HP sport programme in the tertiary education sphere in South Africa. We are setting standards that possibly haven't been set before.
“I'm very excited about this opportunity and I'm looking forward to playing a role in taking our HP teams and student-athletes forward," concludes Grant.