Covid-19: Kenyan sports psychologists to counsel athletes

Covid-19: Kenyan sports psychologists to counsel athletes

Two selfless sports psychologists from Kenya have come out to provide free mental-health services to the country’s athletes to cushion them from the negative effects of the Covid-19 virus that has disrupted not only sporting actives but also the income of sportsmen and women worldwide.

The free online therapy for athletes will run for two weeks from May 25 – June  2020 from 11am – 3pm, according to Rowena Tirop, who holds an MSC in Sports and Exercise Psychology. Tirop also has a background in competitive swimming, hockey and football from in high school. 

Tirop who also worked with a collegiate rugby union in London and currently works with the Kenya Rugby Union (KRU) will conduct the session alongside Kanyali Ilako.

Just like Tirop, Ilako is also an MSC holder in Sports and Performance Psychology and has a background in competitive swimming besides working with the Olympic swimmers in Finland, a league one football team in Greece, ITF EA training centre in Kenya and is an intellectual impairment classifier with the International Paralympics committee (IPC).

“Sessions will be on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. A session will be 30 – 40minutes. Individual or group sessions. Verbal consent will be sought,” Tirop said.

The duo were pushed by their love for promotion of mental health to reach out to athletes who could be facing some mental illnesses following the abrupt stoppage of sporting activities in Kenya.

“Our main goal is and has always been to promote mental health and well-being for athletes and coaches in their various sports thus increasing their levels of performance and overall mental well-being.”

“Covid-19 has altered all our lives and the changes that have come about as a result have led to an increase in sedentary behaviours and in turn it has contributed to an increase in mental ailments such as anxiety, frustration, irritability and depressive moods,” the duo told SPORTS AFRICA in a statement.

“Athletes are facing career disruptions, as experienced with injuries or retirement, and are led to train in less effective environments without their coaches and teams.

“The purpose of our initiative is to work with individuals and groups to develop programmes catering to their unique mental demands. “We take an individualized approach to addressing the mental aspects of performance by getting to know each client as we seek to understand how their mind influences their performance, both positively and negatively.”

Some of the areas that psychologists will tack including the coping skills, stress, anxiety, depression and other mental illnesses.

Most Kenyan sports federations are yet to fully embrace this very important part of the game – Sports Psychology – a service which is equally important just as strength and conditioning and physiotherapy services for sportsmen and women.

Sports Psychology is the understanding of how the mind influences performance and how to optimize it using various programmes that focus on identifying the mindset in which you perform your best and providing ways to recreate that mindset taking a strengths-based approach to developing mental toughness.