In sports, the most important topic of the Estonian Presidency is how to conceptualise the role of coaches in a changing society. Besides focusing on results, trainers are also those, who teach values and life skills, develop physical activity habits, and create cohesion in the society. This way of thinking, however, is only starting to take root in Europe. That is why Estonia has taken on the task of drawing more attention specifically to the role of coaches in the wider society. In this info bulletin, the Estonian Presidency’s chair of the working party on sport Kairis Ulp talks about the topic in more detail.
Sports and physical activity as well as their role in society have significantly changed over past decades, and these changes have also had an impact on coaches, key persons in the field of sports. Sports has become a significant economic sector, including as an employer, with an increasing amount of goods and services being offered. Society is placing an increasing amount of expectations on sports when it comes to solving challenges such as work ability, well-being, education, health and social inclusion. To successfully meet these expectations, the guidance coaches provide should be especially highly valued in society.
Training is safest and arrives at the best results if it is guided by a coach. That is why coaches are persons of key importance in sports, and in addition they have a central role in mediating a positive sports experience for participants of all ages and at all levels. Being results-oriented today is only one part of the expectations that we have for the community of coaches.
Coaches have an impact on key areas of society
The activities of coaches influence millions of people, and in addition to sports they have an impact on other fields as well. For example, education and cultivation are areas where coaches can contribute a lot, because it is in their power to use sports as a vehicle for developing positive values and multifaceted skills. If these are successfully learned, it has a great impact on maintaining the principles of fair play and on the successful creation of cohesion in society.
Physical activity is a prerequisite for health, active social participation and a good quality of life. Coaches have a significant role in building and promoting values related to healthy lifestyles, as well as increasing the number of people who are physically active. The results of this work are evident in healthcare as well.
The added value of coaches’ work also shows in other aspects of society. Coaches can help solve many of society’s challenges, such as integration, bringing communities together, including people with disabilities, gender equality, etc.
A novel topic at the European Union level
In Estonia, the topic of the professional qualification of coaches can certainly considered to be a success story in sports management. Over the past 14 years, Estonia has reached a point, where obtaining the state recognised professional qualification has become a motivating goal for coaches, and it is also a significant and trusted basis for public sector fund allocation to sports organisations.
Within the Presidency, Estonia has chosen to discuss the expanded role of trainers, with a wider approach geared towards society. At the Member States’ and EU level, it is certainly a novel and current topic. Our goal is to draw attention to the great impact and potential the activities of coaches have, but also to emphasise that the skills and preparation of coaches has to go hand in hand with changes in society. The role of coaches is also one of the main topics of the EU Work Plan for Sport 2017-2020, which is the first item on the agenda in sports during Estonia’s Presidency. The objective is to develop Council conclusions on the role of coaches in society. To that end, the conference “Role of sport coaches in society. Adding value to people’s lives.” will be held on July 13-14 in Tallinn, and it is available for viewing via webstream for all who are interested on the Presidency’s webstream page.