The Children’s Coaching Collaborative (CCC) is growing group currently made up of 14* organisations whose primary aim is to set standards to improve the provision of sport and physical activity for children and young people. Through the power of coaching we aim to influence the sector to raise the bar of children’s coaching. Our guiding principles and purpose are based the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, specifically article 3 (best interests of the child), article 31 (the right to play), article 6 and 24 (their equal right to develop to their full potential and the right to the best possible health, and article 12 (the right to be heard and to have their views taken seriously).
Our call for evidence here will directly relate to question two for the select committee:
How can children and young people be encouraged to participate in sport and recreation both at school and outside school, and lead an active lifestyle?
The CCC began their journey in 2020, collecting insight from a range of organisations about the state of the coaching nation in relation to Children and Young People. What the research told us includes:
We know that 82% of children who are coached reach higher levels of happiness (Coaching in the UK 2019). However, more than half of children do not get enough exercise, this is much lower for girls and young people from low socioeconomic families. (Sport England Active Lives 2020). 80% of girls feel like they don’t belong in sport (Women in Sport Study). Also, that Asian (35%) and Black (34%), children and young people are most likely to be less active (Sport England Active Lives 2020).
These are some stark statistics, but we need to go further into understanding why this is the case.
Therefore, the indication that only 50% of children really enjoy sport and physical activity is a good place to start on our mission. (Sport England). The children’s motivations are paramount, fueled by the parent’s engagement here. Also, the route to enjoyment is not always a simple journey as there are many variables that need to be taken into consideration. An I Coach Kids study reported the following negative components of a poor experience felt by children: “made to feel they had low levels of confidence and competence”; “sessions often became too serious therefore no enjoyment”; “there was too much emphasis on winning”; “pushy coaches and parents sideline shaming”. For girls, a study by Women in Sport highlighted that the following variables and perceptions were a contributing factor to a lack of enjoyment: body changes; low self-esteem; fear of failure; fear of judgement; body image; pressures from social media; fear of bullying; accessibility and affordability, but also a fear of missing out.
As the name suggests, the Children’s Coaching Collaborative fundamentally believe that coaches and people who lead sessions can have a profound impact on creating a positive environment for children to thrive. Half of children’s coaches do not see that their primary role is to build confidence, three in ten parents barely know their children’s coach, and a quarter of UK parents do not believe coaches are trustworthy (UK Coaching Parents Survey).
We need to recognise that children and young people are not mini-adults and have their own motivations and perceptions of being active through either sport, physical education or physical activity. Freedom to “play“ is cited in may studies as the foundation to succeed in children’s sport and physical activity sessions.
Top motivations for playing sport include for fun and enjoyment; to get better; to get in shape and feel healthy and to hang out with friends (Coaching in the UK). There needs to be a shift where sport and physical activity is not seen as something that is “done” to children. “Empowering kids increases their intrinsic motivation to play sport.” (Street Games) This very approach has led to higher numbers of children participating / more frequently; improved self-confidence and engagement; improved behaviour; positive effects for the community; and lower crime (Street Games).
Returning to our opening paragraphs, the Children’s Coaching Collaborative, our fundamental truths and guiding principles rest on every child’s right to play, to develop and to be heard
These are our beliefs. They are what we stand for as the Children’s Coaching Collaborative. And, above all, they are based on what children have shown us they need for them to feel the fun, freedom and belonging so vital to their participation — and to developing a lifelong love of being active. To this end we are committed to promote children’s coaching as fulfilling the following four criteria.
The next steps for the Children’s Coaching Collaborative are to expand the membership with the aim of inviting all those with a passionate desire to improve the experiences of sport and physical activity for children and young people to support these truths and act upon these commitments.
*The current membership of the group is:
UK Active Kids
Youth Sport Trust
Women in Sport
Active Partnership Network
Chance to Shine
Salisbury Rovers FC
29 January 2021