Empowering community coaches to achieve SDGs through sports
Much has been said about the economic impact that this crisis has generated on the industry of major sports, including professional leagues, sporting clubs and multi-sport events such as the Olympic Games. However, at the base of the pyramid there is a large number of people who belong to the most vulnerable sector of the economy, the informal sector or the popular economies, which include sporting grassroots organisations and community sport coaches. During this health outbreak, this group of coaches struggles to cope with the challenges:
- Most coaches have their own club in highly vulnerable communities and do not have an employment contract. Their main income comes from contributions made by the families and they depend on the day-to-day activities. Furthermore, some clubs do not have formal structures and belong to the informal economy.
- Due in most cases to territorial isolation, mistrust in institutions and informality, these coaches tend to be excluded from government databases and ignored by the league system and authorities. In a survey carried out by GIP in Colombia during March, 2020, 76% of community coaches were not part of any league or did not benefit from policy instruments of the Ministry of Sport; they are invisible to the formal institutions.
- In developing countries, these coaches tend to be community leaders with knowledge of a sport, former athletes who fail to reach professional leagues or part of new generation of sports processes in the same community. In most cases, they have a low level of training in coaching, they lack professional support and learning tends to be empirical.
This group of coaches have a strong influence in the lives of young people and children, and they play a relevant social role in their communities. In addition to being the coach, they become an important authority-figure for children and support for the families. Community coaches are therefore strategic promoters of values and health standards. It is important to empower this group to ensure sports fulfill its social role and contribute to development and peace goals.
- Multi-Stakeholder Partnerships to achieve objectives and manage information
Governments, international governing bodies and NGOs shall coordinate resources to consolidate a database of community coaches. Such integrated tool can influence strategizing, programming and transfer of knowledge solutions for the stakeholders and contribute to designing public policy instruments that benefit and enhance the scope of community sport.
- Capacity-building and knowledge exchange aimed at the base of the pyramid
Community coaches often do not have the means to invest in professional development, therefore, more investment in capacity-building will help the coaches at the base of the pyramid to cope with challenges of development and crisis and keep the sports pyramid standing.
- Technology as the enabler to reach community coaches
Technology-based tools such as online education must be explored as platforms of knowledge transfer. GIP has successfully explored this during the confinement period, and unlimited data plans for social networks allowed to support remote community coaches and to address the issue of professional development where opportunities are limited.
These are some options that would help to change the vulnerable situation of community sports now and in the future. To be efficient and effective, however, governments, international (and national) sport governing bodies and other stakeholders shall invest at the base of the pyramid to ensure sports contribute to achieving development and peace goals.
Diogo Jurema: With over 15 years working in sports, Diogo has worked with different IFs as well as public and private organisations to build and implement sport event and communications strategies; he worked with bids and event organizers, and managed sports events and legacy programmes.
Beatriz Mejía R.: Director at Grupo Internacional de Paz and sports consultant for peace and development, Beatriz graduated in business management and acquired Masters in Development Studies as well as in Government and Public Policies. She has earned the Eva Woman Award in 2019 under the Peace Building category.