Imogen Walsh: coaching rowing around the world
Rowing has taken me to some pretty interesting places – South Korea, Australia and all over Europe for a start. But more recently, it has been destinations more commonly associated with sunshine holidays that have been the venue – the Maldives and Tunisia. Both were in a coaching capacity, as part of projects to progress the sport in developing rowing nations. While the projects differed in duration – the Maldives for nearly 7 months, and Tunisia for just 10days, the principle was the same: to get people rowing.
The Tunisian project was a camp in the lead-up to the African Rowing Championships and involved athletes of all levels from all over Africa – some that were fresh from Sarasota and others that had never even seen an erg or a boat before. I was tasked with teaching the latter who arrived on anything from Day 1 of the camp to Day 8 – literally just before racing was due to begin and hopeful of racing a 2k in a single! Added to this, the common language for me and many of my group was French, not something I had spoken since my Higher French exam at school, which was, well, more than a few years ago…
Imogen Walsh coaching on the Lake of Tunis
Confidence is a muscle – you must push it and stretch it to make it stronger, and sport is the perfect way to do that.
But this was a challenge I actually really enjoyed. Personally, I prefer high-performance coaching to beginners, but doing it in French added a new edge! And it’s surprising what you can dredge up from the back of your head when you need to… “utiliser votre jambes et laissez voter bras droits” … “ramez ensemble!”
Some of my group showed real potential, not only in terms of picking up the skills quickly but in how they mentally approached it, showing a real desire to listen, learn, develop and push themselves. Others didn’t take to it quite so well… but sport doesn’t have to be all about becoming an Olympian. Sport is an invaluable tool for personal development. It allows you to challenge yourself, set goals, develop concentration, dedication and teamwork. Confidence is a muscle – you must push it and stretch it to make it stronger, and sport is the perfect way to do that.
Imogen Walsh coaching in Tunisia
So if my group of fledgeling rowers go back to Djibouti, Niger and Madagascar etc, just a bit more confident in themselves and what they can achieve if they put their minds to it, then I have no doubt it will benefit both them and their communities.
You can read more about my Maldives adventure on my blog.
About Imogen Walsh
Imogen Walsh has represented Great Britain frequently as a lightweight sculler. She was World Champion in the LW4x in 2011 & 2016, European LW1x Champion & World Silver medalist in 2015 plus numerous World Cup gold and podium finishes in the LW2x. Imogen is now coaching in the UK.
Imogen is now seeking to combine her previous professional experience working for an international development charity with her more recent experiences in sport. In the future, she is looking for a coaching role in addition to a role that utilises the benefits of sport to enable those in disadvantaged situations fulfil their potential.
You can contact Imogen via her website.