18 SES 08, Parallel Paper Session
Parallel Paper Session
The Swedish sports confederation has three million members and over 600,000 voluntary leaders and coaches are engaged in 22,000 clubs. Large numbers of children and youths participate every week in sports activities organized by a sports club. For example, sixty to seventy percent of all 10-12 year olds children are members of a sports club. Therefore, the sports movement is usually regarded as the most important public educational environment, next to the schools. However, how sports for children best should be carried out has been a subject of debate for many years. The policy from the Swedish Sports Confederation is clear: children’s sport should not be too serious but be joyful and based on the prerequisites of children and it should be designed so that they can learn about sport and develop a lifelong interest in it (Swedish sports confederation, 2009). Despite this, research shows that practice is not always in line with policy (Peterson & Norberg, 2008). In an attempt to ensure a more child-centered approach, the Swedish Government recently decided that if sports clubs were to receive state funding for children’s sports the adoption of a child’s perspective was essential (The Swedish Government, 2009). This means that sports coaches have to follow the United Nation’s Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). Being a sports coach for children is a complex and responsible task, and often involves balancing various stakeholders’ quests for sporting performance and results. In many ways, coaching children can be described as a tension between doing what is necessary in order to succeed and doing what is best for the child. Although many countries have adopted policies in order to protect children who are engaged in sport, few studies are available about what this means in practice (Brackenridge, 2002; Kerr & Sterling, 2008).
This study examines coaches’ knowledge of children’s rights as enshrined in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (United Nations General Assembly, 1989). A particular focus is on the child's right to forming his or her own views and to express those views freely in all matters affecting them. Central questions are: 1) What do coaches know about children’s rights? 2) What rights and obligations do children who participate in sports have according to coaches? And 3) What sporting matters, if any, do children have the right to express his or her own views about?
The theoretical foundation for the study is, firstly, that the views of children and their rights are historically, socially and culturally constructed, and secondly, that sport coaches are socio-culturally situated. The social practice of children’s sport is conditioned by what Peterson & Franzén (2005) label the sports coaches' dual mission: they need to balance, on the one hand, the democratic social mission – to allow everyone to participate – and, on the other hand, the sport's mission: to develop winners.
Brackenridge, C. H. ‘…So what?’ Attitudes of the vpluntary sector towards child protection in sports clubs, Managing Leisure 7, 103-123, 2002. Gretchen, Kerr A. Stirling, Ashley E. Child Protection in Sport: Implications of an Athlete-Centered Philosophy, Quest, 60, 307-323, 2008. Patton, M. Q. 2002. Qualitative Research & Evaluative methods. 3rd ed. USA: Sage. The Swedish Government, Regeringens proposition 2008/09:126, Statens stöd till idrotten, (Stockholm: Regeringen, 2008). Säljö, R. Lärande i praktiken; ett sociokulturellt perspektiv, (Stockholm: Prisma, 2000). Swedish Sports Confederation, Idrotten vill. Verksamhetsidé och riktlinjer för idrottsrörelsen in i 2000-talet. (Stockholm: Riksidrottsförbundet, 2009). Peterson, T. & Franzén, M. The democracy-competitiveness dilemma in team sport. A panel study of Swedish soccer girls and boys, Paper to the 7th ESA-Conference, Torun, September 2005. Peterson, T & Norberg, J R Föreningsfostran och tävlingsfostran. En utvärdering av statens stöd till idrotten,( Stockholm: Fritze, 2008).
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