Recreation and Sport Studies

Studying, Experiencing and Facilitating Kinesiology, Recreation and Sport through Wellness and Physical Activity

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The role of municipal park and recreation agencies in enacting coach and parent training in a loosely coupled youth sport system

By: C. Dykstra

Barcelona & Young (2010) speak to the identified need for municipal parks and recreation departments to accept their role in offering, managing and enforcing sport parent and coaching education and training. Though municipalities offer or support sport programming to 38M children nation wide (resources, leadership, program support or facility infrastructure) there are no standards set or enforcement for facilitators of youth sports programs with regards to coach training or parent education. Voluntary youth sport organizations (VSOs) cater to fewer participants, though they are still reliant on municipal recreation agencies for support (facilities and programmatic support) with approximately 70% of VSO programming being delivered through various affiliations with municipal recreation agencies.

Both municipalities and VSOs have identified the need for coach and parent training/education, though it has been identified that they are unable to offer this support for various reasons (lack of resources to administer, track and enforce sport training, lack of qualified personnel to serve as trainers, lack of budget to finance training).

I felt that the article accurately portrayed gaps within service delivery from a municipal perspective, though the findings to me indicated that further research should be conducted to get at the qualitative perspective of these gaps. Through qualitative research, researchers may be able to better bridge the gap between delivery systems and allow for opportunity to build organizational capacity, volunteerism and more succinct hiring practices of both paid and volunteer staff.

Furthermore, future research could be conducted around process and policies regarding hiring practices or partnership development to mitigate the strain on resources both human and capital between both sport and recreation delivery systems.

Thus, this leads to question of who should be taking education and training responsibilities for coaches and parents, municipalities or VSOs.

Questions raised:

1) Who should be responsible for the training and education in question? Why?

2) It was noted within the article that poor sportsmanship among parents was a significant problem within sport programming among municipal agencies.

  • What would be your first step in rectifying this issue?
  • Who are the key players in these steps?
  • What are the budget allocations?
  • How are decisions made?

3) Good leadership of youth sport involves adults – adults who for the most part are well intentioned, but often untrained in making administrative decisions about community based sport programs and as such, appropriate training is needed. What approach would you take to ensure that coaches were qualified to do their job (either VSO or municipal perspective)?

  • Background checks, prior experience, coach education, expert volunteers
  • Train the trainer model
  • Share resources such as facilities for training (bartering)

Like the Sharpe (2006) article discussed by Ries, there is a dependency on volunteers (generally parents), but these VSOs have the human capital; just not the expertise à Expert volunteerism is needed

4) As researchers, athletes, coaches and participants, what impact do you feel that qualified coaching has/had on your personal sporting experiences? Based on the information presented today, do you still feel that your first choice is still appropriate?

Aside from my municipality and my current research project; here is a great example of other communities beginning to bridge this gap through partnership, sharing the role of training and education. Though this community is in Ireland, the process and implementation are very similar to a Canadian or American context. Enjoy!


Barcelona, R.J. & Young, S.J. (2010). The role of municipal park and recreation agencies in enacting coach and parent training in a loosely coupled youth sport system. Managing Leisure, 15, 181-197.

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Hockey and Newcomers to Canada

As a graduating undergraduate in RSS, an article I would recommend reading is: 

Hockey is known as Canada’s sporting pastime, so for people moving to Canada, it is not a bad idea to learn about the game. In the article, newcomer to Canada, Gihad is willing to be learn the rules and how to coach hockey for his son. This is not only beneficial to Gihad, it is also beneficial to his son. For example, Gihad states “ I’m not here to close the door on myself and my kids and stay inside, I can do that in Egypt, I don’t have to come here to do that”. With the rising numbers of obese children, Gihad is moving in the right direction to keep his children active in a new country.

Multiculturalism is something that most of us have been exposed to in the past; this article highlights a great case of multiculturism in sport. When he arrived in Canada, Gihad did not have any idea what the game of hockey was about or the rules of the game, but that did not stop him from wanting to learn and give his children the opportunity to take part in the Canadian culture. For the coaches to give Gihad a chance is really positive. Coming from a small town, I would not see insistences like this. I think this is also a great learning experience for the kids as well to see Gihad on the ice learning how to skate and the determination he has to learn the game is setting a good example of the kids.