The Guatemalan NOC received support from the IOC through its NOC Athletes’ Commission Activity Grant programme, which aims to empower athletes through NOC activities. 

The Diploma of Life Skills and the Diploma of Athlete Development take athlete-centred approaches and encourage feedback from participants to further improve the content of future programmes. 

NOC Athletes’ Commissions can now apply to Olympic Solidarity for an annual grant worth up to USD 10,000. 


One of the fundamental ideas that we have as an NOC that is shared by the IOC is the importance of continuous education.

 

Gabriel Sagastume, Chair of the Athletes’ Commission of Guatemala

Gabriel Sagastume, Chair of the Athletes’ Commission of Guatemala, understands how important it is for Olympic athletes to prepare for life outside of competition. Indeed, having competed at Sydney 2000 and Athens 2004, he has also received a bachelor’s degree in business administration and has since gone on to become a master educator for Athlete365 career programmes. It is due to these experiences that he now encourages other athletes to look to their future while they are still competing and to start putting a plan in place for what they might want to do in the future.

Continuous education

In April 2019, I attended the International Athletes Forum in Lausanne as Chair of the Guatemalan Athletes’ Commission (AC), and it was there that we first heard President Bach announce that the IOC would further increase its support to all the ACs around the world through the NOC AC Activity Grant. Crucially, the programme focuses on supporting ACs help athletes in many different spheres of life, whether that be inside or outside of sport, an idea which ties in perfectly with PanAm Sports’ objectives.

One of the fundamental ideas that we have as an NOC that is shared by the IOC is the importance of continuous education. In the past, it was far less common for athletes to think about the future. Competing at the Olympic level demands so much dedication, but there is also life outside of sport. Athletes’ careers are short and anything can happen, so it is our responsibility to ensure that our athletes are best prepared not just for the next competition, but for the rest of their lives. We want athletes to know their strengths, to understand how they can be transferred into the professional world and to give them a clear perspective on what their lives could be outside of sport.

Skills for life

Inspired by these core ideas, we put in place an initial plan for our AC Grant activities, but of course everything changed with the arrival of the pandemic as in-person seminars, lectures and courses became impossible. As such, we have embraced technology and both of our grant-supported programmes now take place online. The Life Skills Diploma covers a wide array of topics, including the art of public speaking, entrepreneurship and networking, personal finances, and public image, all aiming to encourage athletes’ personal development while leveraging the skills they have developed through the course of their athletic careers.

The Comprehensive Athlete Development Diploma, meanwhile, invites educators from around the world to talk to athletes about topics such as health and nutrition, personal branding, healthy relationships, and managing your emotional and physical health. Overall, we are very proud of our work so far. Last year, the workshop reached almost 200 athletes in different sports, and their comments have been overwhelmingly positive, especially in relation to elements developed in cooperation with the athletes themselves.

Putting athletes first

One of the guiding principles we have followed is that our programmes should be athlete-centred. This doesn’t just mean we think about what they might like, but rather that they are involved in every stage of the process and have as much input as possible. Indeed, we communicate with the athletes throughout the programmes and always take their feedback through questionnaires after workshops or seminars to find out what they enjoyed and what could be improved. This feedback will help shape the next AC grant-funded activities we plan to hold in 2021.

To me, it is very important to athletes’ development that they are able to interact with the executive committees and their own federations because the main idea of the Olympic Movement is to have the athlete as the absolute priority. To achieve this, we have to continue to promote athlete participation in the decision-making process and really listen to what they need from us.


One of the guiding principles we have followed is that our programmes should be athlete-centred.

 

Gabriel Sagastume, Chair of the Athletes’ Commission of Guatemala

NOC Athletes’ Commissions can now apply for an annual grant worth up to USD 10,000, which could fund the organisation of seminar like these.