The awareness campaign – which empowers athletes, coaches and the public to celebrate great coaching – will centre on the need to ‘Support Your Coach’, kicking off with the #GreatCoachingPledge that will call on the nation to give some of their own time, sharing thanks and support for the coaching community.
Sport and physical activity has been, and will continue to be, integral to the nation’s response to the coronavirus pandemic by having a positive impact on people’s mental and physical well-being, and the coaching workforce has been instrumental in supporting communities across the UK to stay active over the last four months of lockdown restrictions.
Coaches are now also critical conduits in reuniting people as restrictions are lifted, and following the Government’s announcement of a new ‘obesity strategy’, which is calling on people to ‘take control of their own future by losing weight, getting active and adopting a healthier lifestyle’, will be lent on further to keep the nation moving.
However, UK Coaching has found that both before and during the outbreak of the virus, coaches have been feeling unsupported.
In the organisation’s ‘Coaching in the UK 2019’ research – carried out by YouGov – nearly a quarter of all coaches said a major barrier to them coaching was a lack of support from employers, clubs or national governing bodies of sport, and over 40% said they do not have access to someone who can support them in their coaching role, ie a mentor or coach developer. Additionally, a Twitter poll, conducted by UK Coaching at the height of the lockdown, showed that over 30% of coaches felt they received ‘no support’ during the coronavirus outbreak.
UK Coaching’s Director of Coaching Emma Atkins, said:
Coaches have been absolute heroes keeping us active, connected and motivated both before the pandemic and during the period of isolation and disruption caused by the lockdown.
“However, bubbling under the surface is a feeling of disquiet. We know some grassroots coaches – and elite too for that matter – are struggling with the perceived lack of support right now, so we want to ask the public and anyone who benefits from sport and physical activity to say thank you and pledge their time to support their coach or coaches.
“As restrictions are eased and more of us return to play, we will turn to coaches and expect them to integrate new controls to keep us all safe, so let’s ensure that we recognise and support our coaches across the UK for the vital work that they do.”
UK Coaching’s CEO Mark Gannon, said:
It’s fantastic to see our national campaign come back just as the new school year starts – a pivotal time for coaches. But with news of job losses and real concerns around a reduction of volunteers for the sector, this uncertain world is financially and professionally affecting our coaching family. We are all understandably concerned about the impact this will have on community sport and physical activity provision at the local level.
“Plainly, we cannot afford to lose a workforce of three million people whose values and contributions through sport and physical activity can change lives for the better.
“We are committed to doing everything we can to support the nation’s coaches so they can provide person-centred, great coaching experiences, which is why last month we released our Duty to Care Toolkit and Digital Badge that helps coaches stay current with their learning and development and confident as they return to coaching.
“Great coaching was here before the coronavirus crisis, has been here through it and will be here as we recover. We’re calling on the entire sports sector and the nation to collaborate with us and help us celebrate and support coaches.”
Founder of Our Parks and London based community coach Born Barikor, said:
I am really pleased that this year’s focus for UK Coaching Week is getting people to see coaches in a new light and be appreciative of the work we do, day in, day out. These last few months have seen me work hard to adapt more of my coaching practice for a virtual world, keeping my participants fit during the lockdown measures.
“As a full-time coach, spare time is probably my most valuable, yet illusive asset. From planning to doing to delivering, when you coach your work is never done. So, having someone, whether it be a participant or parent, pledge their time to help or value us – in whatever capacity – is hugely welcome.”
Everyone can get involved in the #GreatCoachingPledge – from parents to charities to businesses. Great coaching is particularly important for health and well-being in these times of coronavirus, but it is also vital for the future well-being of our kids, and because great coaching delivers so many of those major sporting moments which unite the nation.
So, whether it’s a thank you, or offering your time to help clear the cones one evening after your child’s football training, every little moment you can give will help our coaches to feel recognised and appreciated, and therefore, help our nation to stay active and stay healthy.
To find out more about how to pledge, visit ukcoaching.org/coachingweek
UK Coaching Week 2020 will also be looking at the coaching community’s effort to keep the nation physically and mentally active during the COVID-19 lockdown; the importance of parents supporting their children’s coaches; and examining how great coaching delivers so many of those sporting moments that unite the nation.