10 January 2018 • Redactie H|Nieuws
Research findings on the impact of neighbourhood sports coaches
What impact do neighbourhood sports coaches have? The Healthy Lifestyle in a Supporting Environment Research Group (GSLO) participated in a national research study showing that the local impact is significant.
Neighbourhood sports coaches are responsible for increasing the rate of participation in sports among various target groups. They do this by helping educational institutions, healthcare providers, sports clubs, and neighbourhood associations, etc. create opportunities for engaging in sports. They devote their efforts to getting these parties to join forces, a good example being having a sports club collaborate with a primary school to organise a sports clinic. Neighbourhood sports coaches focus their attention on various target groups: children up to 12 years of age; adolescents; vulnerable citizens; people with a disability, chronic disorder or health risk; and senior citizens.
Nationwide research study
The GSLO participated in a nationwide study into the impact of neighbourhood sports coaches. This study was conducted last year by seven heads of research groups, all of them affiliated with a sports studies degree programme. Sports studies students in the participating organisations interviewed about 300 neighbourhood sports coaches working in 34 municipalities.
Benefits for sports studies degree programmes
This applied research project is already benefiting education. For one thing, a useful national consortium of sports studies degree programmes has been created to cooperate on research activities. There has also been more insight acquired into differences in the levels of skills, such as interviewing skills, held by students enrolled in the various degree programmes.
The research study added grist to the mill for the discussion about competencies to be expected from students in both sports studies and teacher education in physical education. It pointed out that neighbourhood sports coaches (who can be graduates of either of these degree programmes) would benefit from having networking and strong communication skills and being knowledgeable about the diversity of their target groups. The actual setting up of sports and exercise programmes appeared less important for neighbourhood sports coaches.
Benefits for the local community
Liset Schrijvers, who teaches in the Sports Studies programme at The Hague University of Applied Sciences and is a researcher in the GSLO Research Group, focused specifically on the role played by neighbourhood sports coaches in relationship to people with a disability. According to her, the local impact of these neighbourhood sports coaches is significant even though this is difficult to demonstrate in hard figures. For this target group, the neighbourhood sports coach depends mainly on what these clients want and then helps them participate in regularly scheduled sports activities (and also in society where possible). To reach this goal, the neighbourhood sports coach depends on a large network and thus has a significant impact at the local level.
More information about the findings of this study is available at the research group’s website.
Thanks go to the Mulier Institute for use of the photograph.