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New collaborations to boost youth sport coaches across the world


Leeds Beckett University has teamed up with a host of prestigious international sporting bodies to support the development of youth sport coaches across the world.

Children playing rugby in South Africa

iCoachKids – a not-for-profit project co-led by Leeds Beckett and the International Council for Coaching Excellence – has formed five new official partnerships with: British Cycling, the International Tennis Federation (ITF), World Rugby, Special Olympics, and the Leaders Development Institute (LDI) in Saudi Arabia.

The new partnerships will see iCoachKids collaborate with each organisation, sharing research and expertise and delivering new projects and education resources to develop sport coaches and others who work with children.

Dr Sergio Lara-Bercial, Director of iCoachKids and Reader in Sport Coaching at Leeds Beckett, explained: “Although we started as an EU-based project co-funded by the Erasmus+ programme, iCoachKids has since grown into a global movement with presence across five continents.

“Key to this expansion has been the vast number of partnerships built with continental and global bodies such as the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) and the International Basketball Federation (FIBA).

“iCoachKids provides these organisations with free, high quality, ready-made, non-sport specific educational content focused on helping youth sport coaches create positive environments for kids. In return, these bodies signpost coaches towards the iCoachKids resources and website - growing the global community and facilitating peer learning to levels that have previously been unheard of.”

Coaches can access free resources through the iCoachKids website - including more than 100 instructional videos, and a series of online courses which aim to support and guarantee access to high quality coach education for all youth sport coaches across the world.

Partners will also have access to new research findings through the new iCoachKidsPlus project, co-funded by Erasmus+ and co-led by Professor Kevin Till, Dr Stacey Emmonds and Dr Sergio Lara-Bercial at Leeds Beckett. The research is focused on 13-to-18-year-olds and aims to understand and minimise dropout in youth sport across Europe and establish what great talent development environments look like.

Children playing tennis and receiving coaching

Image: ITF / Srdjan Stevanovic

Simon Hibbert, Head of Education at British Cycling, said: “We have big ambitions for children and cycling at British Cycling including supporting 75% of children to ride regularly by 2030. iCoachKids and Leeds Beckett University are experts in the field; and we are keen to learn from them to shape our offer for children and coaches alike.”

Sir Bill Beaumont, World Rugby Chairman, said: “Rugby’s future success will be determined by its future appeal, accessibility and simplicity; and we are delighted to be partnering with iCoachKids to further best-practice rugby education for coaches of the next generation of players and supporters in a fun, innovative and accessible way.”

Jon-Paul St. Germain, Senior Director of Unified Sports and Sports Partnerships at Special Olympics, said: “Special Olympics and iCoachKids together make a powerhouse partnership that will change the game for people with intellectual disabilities. By drawing on the expertise of iCoachKids, we will ensure Special Olympics coaches have top notch education resources and training to ultimately deliver the very best inclusive experiences for our youngest athletes.”

Miguel Crespo, Head of Participation and Coaching at the ITF, said: “Quality coaching of children and young people is essential to not only developing future stars but also providing positive experiences to encourage lifelong participation in the sport. We are delighted to work with iCoachKids to further improve the specialist training provided to our tennis coaches.”

Abdullah Hammad, Director General at LDI, added: “We envision through this partnership that we will enrich the educational content in sports, and provide an equal opportunity to all children’s sport coaches across Saudi and the Arab world to educate and enhance their capabilities.”

iCoachKids is a not-for-profit global movement supporting the development of specialist youth sport coaching workforce through the provision of free high quality online educational resources. The movement is supported by the Erasmus+ programme of the European Commission and co-led by Leeds Beckett University and the International Council for Coaching Excellence (ICCE) with an additional eight partners including Lithuanian Sport University, Universidad Europea Madrid, Sport Ireland Coaching, Netherlands Olympic Committee, Royal Belgian Football Federation, FIBA Europe, German Youth Sport and Hungarian Coaching Association.

Top image credit: World Rugby

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