Christ Naude, president of Western Cape Climbing, says his athletes and administrators are staying active and busy during the national Lockdown that is currently putting a hold on all sporting activity.
WC Climbing is a member of the Western Cape Provincial Sport Confederation and represents 10 clubs and approximately 220 climbers.
Chris says the Lockdown has affected climbing hugely. They were about to host the African Continental Championships and a week before they were due to start the Lockdown was announced and the competition had to be cancelled.
All travel was banned, and the judges and climbers could not come through. Chris is frank in his assessment of the situation, saying he does not expect competitions to be held any time soon. It will be quite some months before the gymnasiums open up and people can climb again.
So, for now they are literally playing it month by month and the International Climbing Federation has got to a point where they are not planning ahead. They will give members a 60-day notice with regard to the resumption of international competitions.
The fact that people are not allowed to travel between provinces also contributes to the problem. Chris said he was not holding his breath on gyms opening up and competitions resuming soon.
But his climbers are finding innovative ways to stay strong and fit, even in the confined spaces of their homes. They had lots of people constructing home exercise equipment and building their own mini climbing walls and equipment, and posting on social media, says Chris. They are having fun and “train together” by posting videos on social media platforms and live chats. Chris was hopeful that climbing, a sport that naturally lends itself to social distancing, would be one of the first to be allowed to resume activity once the Lockdown was over.
He said they will resume as soon as they are allowed to get on the mountain again.
Chris says that the climbers have been training using everything from hanging on door frames, through very simple improvised equipment to professional mini gyms quickly constructed in their homes as skill and space dictated.
From an administrative point of view WC Climbing is looking at how they are going to stay relevant if there are no competitions. One of the things they are working on is an online mental training programme that they are doing in partnership with the Sport Science Institute.
Mental strength and overcoming the fear of falling is a huge part of climbing, explains Chris.
That led to another interesting idea – the introduction of a program, devised with the help of a psychologist, for non-climbers to use a technique for developing and strengthening emotional robustness as a way of overcoming the depression, anxiety and trauma people could suffer from once we are out of lockdown.
They want to bring climbing into use for developing mental toughness, as they expect a lot of people are bound to be battling with trauma and anxiety brought about by the Covid-19 virus.
Chris reckons sport is a very good tool for overcoming trauma and depression and feels that other sporting codes can think about doing the same.
The administrators are using the online meeting platform Zoom to stay in contact and Chris was happy that this was an effective tool. He actually thinks that is the way forward, as people are feeling comfortable with it and are used to using it now.
For now, Chris is happy that his climbers are literally climbing out the walls at home and that they are staying fit and strong.