At some point, we all dreamed about being his student. However, Master Roshi is wrong. Or rather, his method is incomplete. Finding a labeled rock in a dense and dangerous forest develops determination and courage. The home delivery of glass milk bottles over several miles while jogging improves stamina and speed. Plowing a field daily with bare hands boosts brute strength. And hey, all these delightful activities are to be done with a 40 pounds heavy turtle shell on your back! The only problem is that you can’t train a promising young athlete focusing only on the sport-related aspects. It is as important to prepare his (or her) academic and professional future.
Gearing Up With A Comprehensive Approach
This double focus is the key to the success of high level young athlete training centers in France — called Pôles Espoirs (approx. under 15 years old) and Pôles France (under 18). To be accepted, applicants must prove their motivation structured around a two-sided project: sport-related on one hand, academic or professional on the other. The lucky few selected face a tough program. During the week, after an intensive class day, the budding champions train for 2 to 3 hours. Over the weekend, if they don’t go back in their club, they take part in tournaments or specific training programs. All fees are paid by the national federation to accelerate the young athletes progress.
At the end of the program though, only a handful of them will join the elite, i.e. the national senior team. The competition is tough and the sacrifices required to stay at the highest level are huge. Plus, the training period takes place roughly at the end of the teenage phase. Being more mature, some of them finally find their way, not necessarily compatible with a sport career. In fact, a majority of the participants change their plans – either by default or by choice. That’s why the non-sport related goal is so important in the selection process.
Going through a high level young athlete training center is hard and the outcome is very unpredictable. However, if you look at the national senior teams, you realize that a large majority of the athletes actually went through this kind of program. If joining the elite is your life goal, you can follow this path… or Master Roshi‘s turtle shell way. Tricky choice, huh?!