PROPOSED REVISED TALENT SELECTION & DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM IN VOLLEYBALL, NEPAL
An effective Talent Identification program helps coaches and administrators screen and support emerging athletes, and provides targeted inputs that will further their performance. Sulochana Sijakhwa, a former Karate player and gold medalist for Nepal tracks the history of talent identification systems in volleyball in Nepal, and proposes a revised process for selecting and nurturing talent at the national level. Sulochana holds a Bachelor’s degree in Sports and Physical Training and a Master’s degree in Sports Medicine and Exercise Physiology. She was a member of the fourth edition of the ELMS HPLP
New findings in physical education and sports science, indicate the importance of proper selection as an effective instrument of human resources development. These findings state that human resources are the most important factor for the qualitative improvement of the sports system as a whole. Therefore, it seems necessary to have a better and more precise understanding of talent in order to to improve athletes’ qualitative level and, consequently, the sports system.
Very early identification of future elite performers allows the best youngsters to gain access to the best coaching and training at an early age, the likelihood of success. Delayed talent identification methods may force talented youth to turn to other sports disciplines, or prevent them from hitting the peak of their abilities due to joining at a later age.
Understanding Talent ID
What is Talent Identification in the domain of sports? Talent Identification (TID) refers to the process of recognising current participants with the potential to become elite players. It is a process that makes a judgement about a performer's qualities and offers that individual an opportunity to get involved in something for which he/ she is best suited.
Although early identification of talent is no guarantee of success in sports during childhood, let alone during adulthood, talent identification and selection for sport is not inherently wrong. Concerns commonly focus on how the selection program is outlined, how the sports system treats the young athlete once he/ she is identified as talented as well as unrealistic expectations, decision-making, progression with age and related issues.The TID process in volleyball may be challenging for practitioners. In general, successful discrimination between talented-identified and untalented- identified junior volleyball players is multidimensional, and based on the assessment of skill attributes, a tactical understanding of the game (Jager and Schollhorn, 2007) or game intelligence (Rikberg and Raudsepp, 2011), perceptual-cognitive skills (Alyes et al., 2013), motor abilities, and anthropometric and physical characteristics (Marcelino et al., 2014).
Despite this, body height is considered a key criterion in the TID process used to assess youth players (Aouadi et al., 2012; Carvalho et al., 202). Thus, the failure to estimate the adult body height of an athlete will significantly hinder the effective TID process in volleyball (Baxter and Jones et al., 2020).
Models of talent identification/Talent selection and development
The system of talent identification is often held accountable for inadequate performances, a limited number of top performers and less commonly, emerging and inconsistent champions. A well-adjusted system of talent identification is regarded as the first step to becoming an international athlete (Peltola, 1992). talent identification as such - the correct placement of identified talent within a wide variety of sports and events - and further selection is a complex multistage and multidimensional process (Williams & Reilly, 2000; Poppleton & Salmoni, 1991), Krasilshchikov, O. (2013).
According to Krasilshchikov, O. (2013), countries with substantial human resources like the USSR, India, China and the USA are more focused on one component of TID, whereas the countries with limited human resources like GBR, Australia, South Africa and Malaysia, follow other options.
Existing model of talent identification/Selection and development
A history of volleyball in Nepal
What is known is that volleyball was brought into Nepal in 1933/34 from England with a Nepali in the British Army being the channel. A book published after the first National Games in 1982 mentions that students of Trichandra College first played volleyball at the community level in 1942. concrete developments in volleyball only seem to have occurred in the 1990s. Advocacy efforts to institutionalise volleyball began with the establishment of the Nepal Volleyball Association in the late 1940s. However, there is no evidence of any volleyball activities back then. The aforementioned book mentions the National Sports Council (NSC)'s interest in promoting the sport along with its efforts to include it in youth and sports competitions.
Volleyball was declared the national sport of Nepal on 23 May 2017. The Nepal Volleyball Association (NVA) is the governing body of volleyball in Nepal and organizes the men's and women's national teams.
TID and development program in volleyball
Nepal’s Sports Science Academy (SSA) organizes various types of talent identification and development programs TID and development programs for the age group 8 – 10 years. A TID program for volleyball was implemented for the first time in 2020. the target age group of the athletes was between 14 to 18 years. The main selection criteria were only physical fitness tests and athlete height. Selected athletes were given a minimum scholarship to continue the training.
While the program is an effort in the right direction, its effect may be limited for a variety of reasons:
The age group chosen was inadequate
There was no time-bound declaration about the training process.
There were no determining criteria for the coaches who were involved in the training process after the selection of the athletes
There was also a lack of involvement of sports science specialists in the entire process
Given the activities undertaken, it looked more like a talent selection process than a TID program There were no psychological and anthropometric criteria included in the selection process.
The program did not focus on athletes’ long-term development and was also missing a continued evaluation process
After a systematic review of the literature related to the subject, I elected to administer a systematic questionnaire to find out more about the previous talent ID and selection program, and find out more about elements needed to improve the previous talent selection program.
I also interviewed three. volleyball coaches and three leaders from sports organizations and the Department of the National Sports Council of Nepal regarding these questions. All the participants had more than 20 years of experience in sports. Almost all the coaches responded that they had some knowledge about Talent Identification and development. They replied that "the scholarship program planned by SSAN is a very good and essential program, but it is necessary to improve these selection criteria, and the need is to include a long-term athletes development program".
Two participants gave their opinions regarding the importance of the program and the need for improvement in the previous TID program. Regarding the possibility of increasing resources available in the organization, they replied. "It is very essential that we need to revise the program and upgrade available resources like human resources and budget, but this is a policy-making part. Therefore, we need to manage the program effectively in this instant to continue the talent selection program with available resources."
Findings from my research
There is no prepared program regarding talent identification/selection and development program at the Nepal Volleyball Association or the Training and Coaching Department of the National Sports Council.
The 'Extra tall talent selection in volleyball' program was for the first time in Sports Science Academy, Nepal for one year.
The first-ever TID program organized by the SSA for youth in the age group of 8 - 10 years ran for only three months. A scholarship program was organized through SSA in 2020. The scholarship program is continuing till 2023 as TID in volleyball. The respective program will be continuing in further fiscal years with the same pattern and budget limitations.
Reviewing the documents verified the importance of the proposed revised talent selection program. It will play a crucial function and role for an improved selection and development process.
An updated talent selection program in volleyball
While earlier programs focused only on physical fitness, this study is designed to better support decision-making related to the ability and potential of 12 to 14-year-old players for volleyball.
Some aspects of the model are adjusted keeping in mind the limitations and challenges of the previous selection criteria. I also defined criteria from anthropometry, physical fitness, physical fitness and technique specific to volleyball.
Based on the above model, the field and criteria for volleyball talent selection, in 2023 will look as follows:
An appropriate and accurate selection of main volleyball talent selection criteria and their weight leads to designing a useful model which could be helpful and advantageous for the federation, Sports Science Academy of Nepal, National Sports Council, and coaches