The rationale for the multifaceted development of the athlete-student in the African context

  • Cora Burnett
Keywords: Elite athlete, African athlete, Career phases, Retirement


In the high profile competitive world of global sport, the athlete is from a relatively young age under exorbitant pressure to excel, compete successfully in the international arena and develop as a person and professionally. The South African athlete faces unique challenges in this regard and requires special nurturing and development to achieve personal, professional and sports-related success. This paper explores the unique social and competitive world of the athlete by analyzing data obtained from a survey conducted among elite athletes who participated in the 7th All Africa Games in 1999. The data focuses on the social profile of the athletes and was obtained through 103 interviews (8 heads of missions, 11 managers, 17 coaches and 67 athletes) and questionnaires that were completed by 343 athletes (160 men and 113 women). They represented 20 different sporting codes, were from 97 different urban and/or rural communities and represented a wide socio-economic, ethnic, age and educational spectrum. The findings informed the proposed rationale for a multi-level and -faceted development programme for the athlete-students. Educational institutions, national sports agencies, companies and athletes may tap into these research findings and this rationale to address the development of South African athletes and sport meaningfully, ethically and responsibly.

Keywords: Elite athlete, African athlete, Career phases, Retirement

South African Journal for Research in Sport, Physical Education and Recreation Vol.25(2) 2003: 15-26

Journal Identifiers

print ISSN: 0379-9069