Tonya Verbeek will be at the forefront of several Commonwealth Games firsts when wrestling gets under way on Thursday 12 April at Carrara Sports and Leisure Centre.
Verbeek is the first female head coach of a national Commonwealth Games wrestling team, leading both the Canadian men’s and women’s teams.
The 40-year-old is Canada’s most decorated wrestler, claiming medals at three Olympics – silver in Los Angeles (2004) and London (2012), and bronze at Seoul (2008).
Aspiring female coaches from 11 countries will take part in a new program aimed at developing female talent and making Gold Coast 2018 the most gender equal in Commonwealth Games history.
The 19 female coaches from 12 sports will take part in the Women’s Coaching Internship Program, which is part of the Commonwealth Games Federation’s gender equality strategy.
Under the program, Commonwealth Games Associations, in partnership with their national sports organisations, applied to include aspiring female coaches in their Gold Coast teams, over and above their usual allocations.
The coaches each have a mentor, will live in the Commonwealth Games Village and attend workshops and training.
Nico Coetzee, head coach of the South Africa Wrestling Federation, will mentor Glasgow 2014 wrestling bronze medallist Mpho Madi, an aspiring coach and administrator.
“I want her to have a good understanding of high-performance preparation and planning and practical coaching experience,” Coetzee said.
“Some opportunities come only once in a lifetime. I am honoured to be a Commonwealth Games coach for the third time, to be a part of something special, and to play a role in the lives of young people.”
Commonwealth Games Federation vice president Bruce Robertson said female coaches were a vital component of the federation’s gender equality strategy.
“To achieve gender equality in team coaching staff at the Games, women coaches must be provided with opportunities to coach and gain international experience,” he said.
This article was produced by Games News Service.