To be able to effectively implement psychosocial sport programmes in the post-disaster setting, practitioners require knowledge and training in both sport and psychosocial intervention. This is to ensure that high quality sport is delivered and that coaches are able to appropriately recognise and respond to signs and symptoms of trauma and to respond in an effective way.

Engaging coaches from local communities is ideal as they possess greater knowledge of their community, language, culture and traditions. They also usually live in the local area and thus can be available outside of programme sessions if children or families want to consult with them. It is important to consider that coaches from the local community are likely to have been affected by the disaster themselves and may need additional support, which the organisation should provide. Although these coaches may come from the local community, they should be selected based on their understanding of the dynamics within the community in terms of ethnic groups, gender norms, social status, etc.

Being a coach in a psychosocial sport programme requires the skill, desire and interest in teaching sports and games, but also the ability to understand emotions, behaviours and facilitate interpersonal communication. Through in-depth training programmes, coaches can be better prepared to recognise traumatic reactions in the programme beneficiaries as well as in themselves, to offer quality interventions and be able (if necessary) to refer such participants to mental health structures. This means that ongoing training and support for coaches of psychosocial programmes is essential.

With training, coaches can be better prepared to recognise the symptoms of more serious responses to trauma and refer such participants to a mental health professional.

A number of training resources have been developed that cater for coaches, animators and facilitators of psychosocial sport programmes. Many include practical suggestions, game ideas and recreational activities along with advice for best practices.

Photo by Seth Doyle