Zurich city is getting a head start in training the Swiss Olympic hopefuls of tomorrow by launching a new project aimed at athletic children.This content was published on March 29, 2005 - 08:50
Talent Eye gives exceptionally gifted six-to-seven-year olds the chance to develop skills across a broad range of sports.
For a period of 18 months, 60 participants will attend training sessions twice a week.
The idea is to introduce one sport a month, exposing children to everything from badminton, swimming and tennis to handball and football.
Swiss Olympic is the driving force behind Talent Eye, which will be supervised by the sports department at the Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich.
"We are actively looking for very talented children, who might be suitable for competitive sports," said Erich Hanselmann of Swiss Olympic.
According to Hanselmann, the varied exposure enables the children to develop basic skills and helps them discover their personal preferences for particular sports.
One phenomenon the project is keen to avoid is the tendency for professional athletes to specialise in one particular discipline at an early stage in their career.
A long-term study published in Germany showed that it was better for athletes to start specialising later rather than earlier, according to Hanselmann.
"By developing and offering Talent Eye, we wish to draw the public’s attention to the fact that even gifted children need to acquire the fundamental motor skills in sport before they specialise," he said.
The organisers believe that Talent Eye is unique because programmes offering basic training for children in the first year of primary school are not widespread internationally.
However, they admit that there are a few countries offering sport-specific training programmes for older children, such as Talent Search Australia.
Some parents are enthusiastic about the potential benefits of the Zurich programme.
"It is excellent because it offers children the opportunity to do sport and to get to know different kinds of sport," said a mother, while watching her boy being put through his paces.
The Zurich scheme was set up after the success of a pilot project in Basel last year.
As to whether the Zurich scheme will produce the Olympic stars of tomorrow, Hanselmann says that it will take at least 10 years before the project’s success can be measured.
swissinfo, Katalin Fekete
Zurich city’s sport department has launched Talent Eye, a project that aims to discover and promote children gifted in sports.
The launch coincides with the 2005 Year of Sport and Physical Education.
The project was initiated by Swiss Olympic.
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