It’s all about CHOICE
By Peter Downs
Coaching is front and centre of the inclusion movement. So it should be. The role of the coach is critical to engaging and encouraging anyone to get involved, and stay involved in sport. But what does it take to be an inclusive coach? What does an inclusive coach need to know and do to be inclusive?
What is inclusion, diversity and discrimination?
can find online. But, definitions are not that important or very helpful. Whatever you call it, inclusion is about your coaching being open to everyone, without unfair discrimination.
It’s all about choices and recognising unfair discrimination
A practical way to look at inclusion is to think about it in terms of the choices you offer. For example, to meet demand
Do you offer choices for women only coaching; or newly arrived migrants; or LGBTQI+ people? If you are open to diverse groups of people how do these people know that you are? Very often, this is where inclusive coaching falls over. It’s not that coaches are unwilling or deliberately unfairly discriminating against people, it’s more that people don’t know if a coach is willing to take them on. For many people that have experienced disadvantage in their lives it’s very difficult to approach a club about coaching. So, be proactive and let the world know that you are proudly inclusive and open to everyone.
Even if you are open to everyone and proudly inclusive it’s still important to recognise
• When you treat someone unfairly because you think they belong to a particular protected group. For example, dropping someone from the team because they will not play on a Sunday and you think it is due to their religion, or
• When you treat someone unfairly because they have an association with someone from a protected group. For example, you exclude someone from coaching because they have a son who is gay. This is known as discrimination by association. Of course, the issue of what is fair or unfair and whether it is based on a personal characteristic or not, can be difficult. As the nuances of these example show. And it’s not that unfair discrimination is always a deliberate act. Often, unfair discrimination can occur unintentionally. This is why it is particularly important for coaches to understand what discrimination is and what to do about it, should it be an issue?
Being inclusive is not only about having a positive open attitude. That’s a starting point for ongoing work around offering greater choices for people to benefit from coaching. Stay vigilant about unfair discrimination and talk to colleagues on how your club and coaching environment can truly reflect the community it is in.
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