UK Coaching Week has returned for 2020.
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.”
To find out more about how to pledge, visit ukcoaching.org/coachingweek