Youth, poverty and sport: What (can) coaches do?

Reinhard Haudenhuyse, Zeno Nols, Pieter Smets, Pieter Debognies

Onderzoeksoutput: Meeting abstract (Book)


Introduction What can you do as a sport coach when you are confronted with issues related to poverty, and in particular young people living in poverty? This is a daunting question that has troubled sport policy makers, educators, coaches and academics alike. Problematically this question has been largely ignored for some time now within academic sport research. What we do know is that people (at risk of) living in poverty, are less likely to participate in organized sports (Vandermeerschen, Vos & Scheerder 2013), and if they do participate, are much more likely to drop out (Haudenhuyse, Nols, Theeboom & Coussée 2013). What we do not yet fully understand is the role sport coaches play in this. Aim There seems to be a dominant belief that sport coaches (and their respective clubs) are not well equipped to deal with children living in poverty, nor have the competences to implement an inclusive coaching strategy. Although such statements might apply to mainstream sport coaching practices in general, there is emerging evidence that some sport coaches do facilitate an inclusive and emancipatory environment. The aim of this research is to gain more insights in such coaching practices Method This research is based on a focused narrative literature review regarding the topics of sport pedagogy and poverty, and fieldwork generated through (auto-)ethnographic fieldwork in Belgium by the second author conducted. The fieldwork included participatory observations and (auto-)ethnographic accounts during a time-span of 11 years (focusing on specific cases of “social-sportieve praktijken”), 60 member reflection interviews and an analysis of relevant (policy) documents (Smets 2019). Results Based on both the findings from the literature review and the fieldwork, we can outline 4 roles sport coaches (can) play, namely: sport organizer, social worker, boundary spanner and institutional entrepreneur. From the different cases of sociaal-sportieve praktijken, it becomes clear that these roles are not played by every coach, nor does the same coach take up one role all the time. It is rather a field in which coaches can move from one role to another. Research cannot however provide clear-cut answers how to deal with every pedagogical encounter in a sport context. Some situations will confront us with multiple (moral) dilemmas, for which there is no right answer and no magic didactical approach or model. Educating and such also coaching young people is as Biesta (2007) has argued, a thoroughly moral and political practice. Sport pedagogical research should address questions allowing to identify moral dilemmas when coaches intervene in the lives of young people, and the impact these actions can have on children living in poverty. In the end, sport coaches need to be better equipped ‘to know what to do, when they don’t know what to do’ (Van Manen 2015). Conclusion & Implications The 4 roles we have identified can both be used to re-imagine existing coaching curricula, as to make them more “poverty responsive”, and explore new inter- and transdisciplinary research avenues. A poverty responsive pedagogy is a competence we should expect every coach to develop and every sport club/school to facilitate. References Biesta, G. (2007). Why “what works” won‘t work: evidence-based practice and the democratic deficit in educational research. Educational Theory 57 (1):1-22. Haudenhuyse, R. Nols, Z., Theeboom, M. & Coussée, F. (2013). European Physical Education Review, 20 (2), 179–198. Smets, P. (2019). Sociaal-Sportieve Praktijken: Beleidspraktijken van onderuit in het stedelijke sportlandschap. VUBpress: Brussel. Vandermeerschen, H., Vos, S. & Scheerder, J. (2013). Who's joining the club? Participation of socially vulnerable children and adolescents in club-organised sports. Sport, Education & Society, 20 (8), 941-958. Van Manen, M. (2015). Pedagogical Tact: Knowing What to Do When You Don’t Know What to Do. Routledge: London.
Originele taal-2English
TitelIedereen aan Zet!
SubtitelAbstractboek Dag van het Sportonderzoek 2020
RedacteurenSteven Vos
UitgeverijFontys Sporthogeschool
Aantal pagina's2
ISBN van elektronische versie978-90-9034046-3
StatusPublished - 26 nov 2020
EvenementDag van het Sportonderzoek 2020: Iedereen aan zet! - digital, NA, Netherlands
Duur: 12 nov 202012 nov 2020


ConferenceDag van het Sportonderzoek 2020
Verkorte titelDSO2020
Internet adres


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