Equality and Equity in coaching – Issues in Coaching

October was Black History Month.  For many of us this milestone will have been overlooked.  If you’re not from a Black or Minority Ethnic group (BME), then the issues and your general awareness of the struggles, plight and achievements of Black and other ethnic minority groups can easily have passed you by.

Nevertheless, minority groups and groups that require special attention come in all shapes and sizes.  Vulnerable adults are another such group.  The deaf and disabled are another and children and young people are yet another.  All of these groups require special consideration in sport for one reason or another.


BME people make up a significant number of local people, yet tend to be under-represented in a vast array of professions in our communities.  Back in August the Football Association (The FA) held a special event to recognise this phenomenon within it’s own ranks, giving particular focus to the lack of coaches and managers in both the amateur and professional game.  In spite of the achievements of coaches like Hope Powell (England Women’s Head Coach) and Noel Blake (Head Coach of the England under-19 men), BME coaches make up only 4.8% of UEFA B holding licences, whereas 20% of professional footballers are from BME backgrounds.

Hope Powell, England Head Coach

Hope Powell, England Women's Football Head Coach

On the positive side the FA are backing a campaign in partnership with Black and Asian Coaches’ Association, which is already making positive in-roads in the amateur ranks.  The FA has created a scholarship fund to help coaches from BME backgrounds to get into coaching and develop their skills.

At a recent launch of the film “COACH”, which aims to highlight both the challenges and opportunities within Football Coaching, FA Chairman David Bernstein said,

“We want football to be able to draw on coaches from the widest possible talent pool and I hope that the COACH film will inspire a new generation of BME coaches to follow in Noel and Hope’s footsteps.” 

In an article for http://www.kickitout.org, Hope explains,

Being young, female and black I knew I could be a positive role model for young people. I hope I can help some young black people in particular to believe in themselves and strive to be the best.

Sporting Equals, a national organisation committed to the promotion of ethnic diversity across sport and physical activity, are currently conducting research into the experiences of BME people who either want to coach or are already involved in coaching.  The study aims to better understand the opportunities, barriers and possible solutions to improving access into coaching.

To complete the coaches’ survey go to this link: Sporting Equals Coach Survey

To complete the participant survey, go to this link: Sporting Equals Participant Survey

The closing date for completion is 16th November 2011.

Child Centred Coaching

Last month saw the Child Protection in Sport Unit (CPSU) host its annual conference at Edgbaston Cricket Ground in Birmingham.  The event marked the CPSU’s 10th birthday and highlighted the progress made in safeguarding policy, and its impact on the experiences of young people across the industry.

Presentations were given by Sport England, The FA and the English Golf Union, demonstrating the immense amount of work that has been done to ensure that sport takes safeguarding seriously, embedding best practice throughout the policy terrain and on the ‘coal face’ of sport, at every level.  Brian Moore, former England RFU player, gave a harrowing account of “A Survivors Story” in which he detailed his own experience of abuse by the hand of an adult in a position of trust.  Brian’s story brought to life the necessity to ensure we continue to highlight the importance of best practice in sport and exercise a ‘zero tolerance’ approach to child abuse at every level.

Professor Anne Stafford, a lead researcher at the Centre for Learning in Child Protection, detailed findings from a recent research report on THE EXPERIENCES OF CHILDREN PARTICIPATING IN ORGANISED SPORT IN THE UK.  The findings were in part very encouraging, with the vast majority of children involved painting a very positive picture of their sport participation.  However, sitting alongside the considerable benefits were an alarming occurrence of more negative and harmful experiences.

The report highlighted that instances of sexual harm – the type of abuse that tends to raise the most concern within sport and amongst the masses – were statistically low at 3%.  However, 75% of children reported being victims of emotional harm, 29% were exposed to sexual harassment and 24% were victims of physical harm.  Whilst peers were the most common perpetrators of all reported cases, coaches were the second most common, sometimes failing to intervene or challenge behaviour effectively i.e. sexual harassment, teasing or bullying between players.  Equally alarming were the 10% of children who reported to having self-harmed, often as a consequence of feeling humiliated, bullied or suffering from poor body image.

Equally revealing was that whilst instances of harm occurred at every level, there was a significant tendency for instances to increase as the level of participation and competition increased.   The report findings were followed by a presentation by former professional basketballer, author and child psychologist, John Amechi, who spoke passionately about the coach’s role in reducing these instances.

John Amechi

Author, public speaker, coach and human rights activist, John Amechi

According to Amechi, who runs his own Basketball Centre in Manchester, coaches must coach with intent, ensuring sport provides people with a safe place to have fun, develop their talent and learn important social and behavioural skills and values necessary to take an active and positive role in modern society.  He was quick to criticise the apparent norms within some quarters of coaching that confuse physical harm and emotional abuse with elite coaching practices.  Amechi accused some coaches of being “anti-intellectual and emotionally illiterate”, explaining,

“when you see a coach shouting so loud at a player that he is spitting in his face, these are signs that this coach doesn’t know how to communicate, much less coach.”


Sport Hampshire & IOW will be running Safeguarding and Protecting Children II, during Coach Education Month (March 2012).  In this refresher session, you’ll consolidate and update everything you learned in the first workshop. You’ll have the opportunity to share best practice and learn from each other’s experiences to help you create a positive, child-centred sporting environment.

Disability Coaching

Clearly amongst some quarters there is a ‘fear factor’ when it comes to engaging with the deaf and disabled community in sport and physical activity.  However, help is at hand.

In September the University of Southampton hosted the Access to Disability Sport Conference, where speakers included Chris Holmes (Paralympian and current Head of Integration for the Olympic and Paralympic Organising Committee), Geoff Holt (the first paraplegic to cross the English Channel) and Peter Hull (3 time Gold medallist and Hampshire’s own Disability Sport Officer.

The event was aimed at highlighting the unique opportunities available to practitioners, coaches and participants in the run up to next year’s games.  There was also lots of discussion and working examples of ‘legacy’.

Its clear that winning medals will win the ‘hearts and minds’ of people in the UK, but as Chris Holmes explained ‘the UK will not be judged simply on how well the games are run or by the success of our athletes…[but] on the ability of the nation to maximise the legacy opportunity and access for all people wanting to engage in sport, once the Games are over’.

Sport Hampshire & IOW is just one local organisation that will be playing its part in raising awareness and providing real opportunities for coaches and sports volunteers to adapt and develop their skills.  During Coach Education Month (March 2012) CHIOW will deliver a number of disability awareness workshops designed for those who currently work or want to work with disability sports.

See interview with Kristina Veasey, who will be one of the speakers involved in next year’s 2012 Hampshire Coaching Conference and Women in Sport event.

For more information, please go to www.coachinghampshireiow.co.uk in the events section.


Posted on 03/11/2011, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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