Sport Facilitators: Re-Examining the Role of Coaches in Community Projects

In: Sport, Identity and Community
Philippe Crisp
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Key to a broad understanding of sports coaching is the belief that it is principally concerned with the development of skills and competence, and by default, that sport coaches work simply to improve performance. However, this belief sits at odds with the manner in which the majority of sport provision within the UK context seeks to use sport as a tool for a variety of social policy issues, in particular ‘sport in the community’ projects where the ancillary benefits of human interaction, the development of relationships, and signposting others towards help (e.g. employment schemes or drugs referrals), can be promoted. And at other times sports and other policy decision makers think that sport coaching and sport provision should concentrate on initiating patterns of lasting physical activity, as opposed to increasing physical or technical proficiency. So, and mindful of some of the themes in the conference, namely the use of sport historically and contemporarily to address what might be termed ‘civilising’ issues; to push values-based coaching; and the role of the coach in terms of performance expertise (for instance, work migration and economic capital), this study’s outline is complimentary about how eight community coaches conceptualised their work-based practice and broader roles. The responses of the coaches were broadly categorised into two areas; how they saw themselves primarily as ‘facilitators’ and not just ‘coaches’; and how they felt that existing coach education is insufficient in its scope, expertise, and ability to prepare coaches for the community setting. Given this, the paper suggests that there needs to be a more considered understanding of the complexity of the role of the coach, and, additionally, that consideration be given to how coaches new to community settings might best be prepared.

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