Podium Performance Programme (PPP)


The African Union Region 5 (SCSA Zone VI) introduced a Zone VI Academy programme in June 2008. The Academy, which was based at the Pretoria High Performance Centre Based at the Pretoria University, sought to assist countries prepare for the London 2012 Olympic/ Paralympic Games. The target set for the Zone collectively was to win twelve (12) Gold medals at the London 2012 Olympic Games and the strategy was known as the “12 x 12

Strategy”. The strategy’s target was such that each country was to commit to win at least one Gold Medal with the exception of South Africa and Zimbabwe who were targeted to win at least two Gold Medals each. The results of the London 2012 Olympics were however as follows:

Zone VI Performance at the London 2012 Paralympic Games

Following the London 2012 Olympic/Paralympic Games, the Zone conducted a review of the 12 x 12 strategy with the view to improving on the Academy concept in preparation for the 2016 Olympic/Paralympic Games. The Zone therefore enlisted the services of a team of experts drawn from various backgrounds to assist in the development of an appropriate model that suits both the resources and environment of the Zone without losing sight of the immediate objective – that of targeting to win 16 Medals at the 2016 Rio Olympic/Paralympic Games.

The Review of the Zone VI Academy model was conducted under the guidance of the 2013 – 2018 strategic plan as demonstrated below:

  • Immediate objective was to meet the 12X12 strategy as explained above
  • The Zone entered into a service level agreement with the High Performance Centre in Pretoria South Africa to provide scientific service support to the athletes and coaches.
  • Each Member Country was to identify two medal potential athletes (one \ male and one female) and their coaches to attend scientific testing and coaching sessions every quarter at the Hpc in Pretoria for development towards London 2012.
  • The athletes and coaches would travel to the Academy for coaching and sports scientific support.
  • Athletes were given a training programme for use at home under the supervision of their coaches.
  • Countries paid for the all round expenses of their athletes and coaches
Observations made on the original Academy and 12x12 Strategy
  • There was no clear link between the Academy and the in country development structures (grass roots) that would result in direct impact on the correct talent identification mechanism/ system
  • There was no evidence of a detailed cost analysis for developing an athlete in country per sport code (individual versus team sports etc). As a result, budget allocations per athlete (coach) to deliver on the model did not exist and could not be met by either the Zone or member countries
  • There was no evidence of harmony on plans between NOCs, Sports Councils/ Commissions, National Federations and Governments regarding athlete high performance
  • Member Countries were at different development stages and therefore the target to win a Gold Media was too over stretching for most Countries. Some countries have qualified to the Olympics whilst others have not. Therefore, targets should have been tailored based on each individual country’s potential
  • A podium finish at the Olympic/ Paralympic Games requires a podium coach. There is no evidence of matching of athletes and podium coaches. Over and above that, there is no clear inventory of podium coaches in the Zone.
  • The 2012 strategy programme was then reviewed to ensure the above issues are addressed and was renamed the Podium Performance Programme.
Benefits of the new model (PPP)
  • It is not capital intensive. The model is less expensive as athlete movement to a centralized training center is reduced while  capacity to develop high performance athletes is enhanced at country level.
  • Athletes receive training within a familiar environment and therefore have high chances of optimum benefit
  • The model utilizes the Zone’s potential resources in terms of growing sport
  • It ensures structured, transparent and accountable development systems are activated in the Member Countries (not subjective)
  • Buy-in and appreciation by stakeholder (Sports councils, schools, parents, governments, private sector etc) is easy to obtain
  • A structured inventory of skills in the Zone will be developed in the process
  • It enables the Zone to optimize services and specialized skills available in the Zone whilst developing capacities at country level.
  • This model enables the Zone to manage and track milestones thereby projecting anticipated medals at the Olympic/Paralympic and other major competitions with a measure of certainty.