Athletes in Action (AIA) works to bring the element of Christian spirituality into the world of sports and athletics. This year, members of our European team are among the coaches at the Gold Camp Myanmar, a training academy for athletes preparing for the South East Asian (SEA) Games, which will be held in Singapore from 5-16 June 2015. This year, 36 sports will be represented in 402 individual events at these games, which are a precursor to the Olympic Games.
Brad and Adrienne Bartz, former European AIA staff members, were part of a team of foreigners that support athletes through personal coaching earlier this year. A delegation of Agape Europe staff members will be visiting Myanmar in May to prepare for participation next year.
This concept is called “Total Athlete” and presents an integrated view of body, soul and mind. The goal is to help athletes include mental, emotional and spiritual development into their training routines in order to reach their full potential, both on and off the playing field. The team have needed to adapt their material to explain Christian concepts in light of local ideas about spirituality, which is primarily influenced by a Buddhist tradition.
Athletes and coaches live in the same camp compound in Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar. AiA representatives work to make contact with as many of the 500 athletes, coaches and officials as possible. Teams from familiar sports like basketball, athletics, volleyball and cycling are at the camp as well as participants in other disciplines that are uncommon in Europe - like chinlone or sepak takraw.
Many teams welcomed them to give presentations or speak with individual athletes, including the rifle and pistol shooting team, the archery team and members of the equestrian team. Sometimes there were 4-5 appointments per day! In one unique encounter, Brad and Adrienne were spontaneously invited to attend a wedding reception where they met a member of the national Olympic Committee. This meeting opened doors to meet more people and expand the network of influence.
In addition to their coaching and networking activities, team members have to get used to a different culture, living conditions, food and social customs in a country that has only been opened to foreigners since 2011.
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