“Coaching is more than preparing top athletes for competition” – Expert Group on HR in Sport

Updated: Apr 7, 2020

The stunning seaside city of Split was a perfect location for the second meeting of the European Commission Expert Group, "Skills and Human Resources Development in Sport" (HR XG) on 11 and 12 July. Our Policy Director Kaisa Larjomaa participated in the meeting as observer on behalf of ENGSO.

The Wednesday afternoon sessions included some welcoming words from the Croatian Central State Office for Sport and the European Commission, and the latter one also provided some information on the latest developments in sport and education.

The first day’s main theme was qualifications and skills in sport, especially coaches’ education, and it consisted of the presentation of three good practices. Fiona Larkin from Sport Ireland Coaching, Wiebke Fabinski from the German Olympic Sports Confederation and Kristjan Port from the University of Tallinn shared their national good example of the inclusion of sport sectoral qualifications to national or European qualifications framework.

“The presentations, as well as the data collected from the participants prior to the meeting, highlighted the fact that coaches’ education varies substantially around Europe. In some countries, the profession is highly regulated at a state level and only accessible through university education. In other countries, the threshold for taking up coaching is low, and volunteer coaches make great contributions to organised sport at all levels. In many cases it is the sports movement itself that sets the standards for coaches and provides quality education”, summarises Kaisa Larjomaa.

The HR XG is in the process of preparing recommendations on the basic requirements for skills and competences for coaches. During this meeting the main goal was to further work on these future recommendations. The group work was preluded by two presentations: one from Sergio Lara-Bercial from the European Coaching Council and one from Tuomas Sammelvuo from the European Volleyball Confederation. After the two introductory presentations, the group discussed the scope of the recommendations.

The first day concluded with a sightseeing tour of the fascinating old town of Split, followed by a dinner. The highlight moment of the evening was the Croatia–England FIFA World Cup semi-final, and the unique ambiance that the local fans created before, during and after the winning match all across the city.

The Expert Group discovering Split

Atmosphere in Split after Croatia qualified for the FIFA World Cup final (Photo: Kaisa Larjomaa)

On Thursday morning, the discussion about the education of coaches continued. Kairis Ulp held a presentation about the Estonian Coach Register, the system of registration for coaches in the country. After her presentation, a discussion took place on the content of the future recommendations.

Kairis Ulp presenting the Estonian Coach Register (Photo: Kaisa Larjomaa)

“The recommendations have the potential to highlight the fact that coaching is much more than just preparing top athletes for competitions. Coaches help children, youth, adults and seniors with different backgrounds for example in being healthy, in finding meaningful ways of participating in society, and developing as a person. The recommendations can pave the way for recognising the variety of skills and knowledge that coaches need today, implementing these observations into coaches’ education, and highlighting the transferability of these skills to other sectors. Many people coach when they are younger and pursue other career options later in life. Many adults coach beside their professional careers. The competences that they develop through coaching should be recognised by themselves and by employers, also outside of the sports sector”, says Kaisa Larjomaa.

The next session was about learning mobility. The session was introduced by the European Commission explaining the idea of mobility in sport and the concept was presented by Wolfgang Stockinger from KADA, the organisation responsible for Dual Careers system in Austria.

The session was followed by the conclusions, where further working methods and planification of the work of the HR XG was discussed.

“The meeting was very fruitful in terms of exchanging ideas and developing them further, especially from the point of view of coaches’ education and its recognition. I am excited that ENGSO can contribute to creating a set of recommendations that can help create better coaching – and more opportunities for an active lifestyle – for people of all ages, sizes and backgrounds”, Larjomaa says, and continues:

“Sport offers many opportunities for developing competences not only for athletes and coaches, but for everyone, especially though volunteering in boards, sports clubs, teams, events, and so forth. This workforce is indispensable for grassroots sport and deserves due recognition. I am looking forward to November and the continued discussion on learning mobility. Through exchanges and other international encounters, professionals and volunteers in sport can enhance their personal skills and help make sports better.”

The European Commission has been invited to set up the HR XG under the Third EU Work Plan for Sport (2017-2020) and the group functions in accordance with its Work Plan and the Commission Decision establishing horizontal rules on the creation and operation of Commission expert groups. The outputs from the HR XG will contribute to the Commission Report on the implementation of the Work Plan for Sport 2017-2020. The first meeting of the group was held in February in Bath.

#HRXG #KaisaLarjomaa #KairisUlp #EuropeanCommission #education #coaches #dualcareer