After undergoing five knee operations and following advise by doctors against participating in sports professionally, Garren Richard Smith turned his love of sports into helping other athletes recover, rehabilitate and perform at the best of their ability.
Smith established the Windhoek Pro Sport Performance Academy (WPSP) a few months ago, but the planning already started in 2017 while he was studying sports science and biokinetics in South Africa.
“This was when I started putting all my plans and ideas to paper and started the groundwork for my business plan. I told myself back then that 2020 was the year I would be opening the sports academy facility,” he told the Youth Corner.
At the moment, there are over 20 young athletes enrolled in various strength and conditioning programmes at the facility in Ludwigsdorf, Windhoek. Their ages range from eight to 18 years old and they attend sessions on a daily and weekly basis.
Smith said these types of services are greatly needed in Namibia, especially for athletes whose ability to perform and success depends largely on their bodies.
The 28-year-old mostly specialises in sport-specific strength and conditioning for individuals, athletes or teams and rehabilitation of sports injuries.
Smith said the mission of the academy is to ensure that the best sports recovery and performance services are available locally, speed up recovery time and offer a haven for athletes to grow, hone their skills and reach new performance heights.
“At the moment we do not have live-in athletes/clients, but we have room space available to accommodate 16 to 20 clients at a time when Covid-19 pandemic regulations ease up and allow us to do so later in the year.”
He explained that WPSPA not only fills a gap in the market but provide dedicated and integrated performance training and adopt a modern multidisciplinary approach to performance training, conditioning and injury rehabilitation, utilising cutting edge techniques and expertise in sports science thereby meeting a huge need in the country.
Lack of funding
Smith stated the country will benefit from the prized athletes and teams having access to a world-class performance and recovery centre. However, lack of funding is one obstacle crippling the sports industry on its knees.
“Sport is not a priority funding sector in our country and that’s why it’s not getting its fair share from the national budget. To make matters worse, our economy has been on its knees for some time now. For that reason, professional sport in Namibia is still far from establishing itself. We are still developing in most sports codes, some sports faster than others but with several teams and athletes doing well internationally it only shows that by investing more in our teams and athletes, the sky is the limit for Namibian sport.”
His love for sports started at age seven when he participated in different codes but focusing on football. Smith represented Namibia at junior level and had a promising football career that saw him play for soccer academies such as Sporting Lisbon, Manchester United FC, Chelsea FC and Jomo Cosmos FC. He also played for Namibian premier league teams SKW and Ramblers F.C.
Smith had a football bursary studying sports science and biokinetics at the University of Stellenbosch and played for the University of the Western Cape, where he studied exercise science and sports recreation until his knee problems surfaced.