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2020/2021 Match Grant Projects

In 2020/2021, SIRC awarded 10 Researcher/Practitioner Match Grants to a diverse group of sport organizations and researchers across the country. The SIRC Match Grant program is designed to connect researchers and sport organizations to build capacity and contribute to the advancement of the Canadian sport and physical activity sector. Projects that produce insight to enhance the participation and leadership of girls and women were prioritized for funding.

Beyond the Medals: A cross-sectional study investigating retired high performance female athletes’ health | Rowing Canada, Rugby Canada & Western University

  • Strides are being made in injury prevention for elite athletes, but little is known about the long-term health outcomes for women following retirement from high performance sport.
  • The Fowler Kennedy Sport Medicine Clinic located at Western University teamed up with Rowing Canada, Rugby Canada and Game Plan to fill this knowledge gap.
  • The partners co-developed an online questionnaire to explore long-term mental, musculoskeletal, reproductive and cardiovascular health outcomes in retired elite female rugby and rowing athletes.
  • Overall, retired female athletes had high rates of depression and anxiety. Rugby players had higher rates of hip and knee injuries, while rowers had higher rates of back injuries. In terms of reproductive health, 55% of the athletes became pregnant, though the average age of a first-time mother was 3.5 years older than the general population.

This study will better inform transition-from-sport programs. The findings suggest it may be important for these programs to have mental health experts who understand the difficulties that retirement can have on athletes’ lives, as well as physicians who athletes can talk to about fertility options while still in sport. 

“That’s a Blue for you”: Referee experiences managing concussion injury risk in Canadian amateur rugby | Rugby Canada, Rugby Ontario & University of Toronto

  • Rugby Canada, Rugby Ontario, and researchers at the University of Toronto explored Canadian rugby match officials’ experiences with the management of concussion injury risk and the Blue Card process through semi-structured interviews.
  • The Blue Card is a process initiated by a coach, player or match official and delivered on field by the match official to identify a player who has been removed from the field of play due to a suspected concussion.
  • Interviews revealed that match officials have varying levels of concussion knowledge in terms of the cause, severity, signs, and rehabilitation of sport-related concussion injury.
  • When engaging with the Blue Card process, match officials use a ‘network of responsibility’ whereby other members within the rugby community may be brought in to support the decision-making process. Match officials also expressed concerns and benefits related to the Blue Card process.

This research provides novel insight into the use of referees as gatekeepers to, and facilitators of, risk management via the Blue Card process. It also contributes to the collective knowledge on the use of rule changes for managing concussion injury risk in sport. 

A mentee training resource for the Coaching Association of Canada’s mentorship programs | Coaching Association of Canada & Cape Breton University

  • The Coaching Association of Canada (CAC) supports women coaches through mentorship programs guided by the Female Coach Mentorship Model.
  • An evaluation of the CAC’s existing mentorship programs revealed that mentees need more support to understand the mentorship process and mentee role expectations.
  • In partnership with Cape Breton University, the purpose of this project was to create a mentee training resource for effective mentee training.
  • After conducting focus groups with current mentee coaches to determine their needs, the project team created the Training for Effective Mentees program to foster effective mentee experiences.
  • The program consists of 3-4 webinars or workshops with supporting resources, including a mentee workbook, facilitator guide and slide deck. It also includes regular check-ins with program facilitators, and a community of practice for mentees.

The Training for Effective Mentees program and resources are available to support mentorship programs for coaches at all levels of sport, whether multi-sport or sport-specific, via the CAC.

Creating an evidence-based impact assessment tool | Fast and Female & University of Toronto

  • Fast and Female delivers sport-focused events for self-identified girls aged 8-14 to cultivate self-esteem, resiliency, confidence and social belonging in environments that build and promote healthy relationships.
  • To understand program outcomes at the participant level, Fast and Female partnered with researchers at the University of Toronto to develop a reliable and valid evaluation process for its programs.
  • The findings of a literature review focused on best practices for measurement and evaluation with adolescent girls and interviews with program participants informed the development of a survey tool. The research team then pilot-tested the survey at two events.
  • Participants shared that the Fast and Female program helped them gain confidence, try new physical activity or sport, broaden their thinking about activity, and helped them to feel connected to a community of similar others.

This novel, evidence-based program evaluation process and outcome survey may be useful for other organizations with goals of better understanding participant benefits in dedicated events.

Girls on ice! Motivation and role models in women’s hockey | Hockey Canada, Hockey Quebec & University of Quebec in Trois-Rivières

  • Statistics show that only 20% of all Canadian hockey players are women, and a high proportion of them leave the sport during adolescence.
  • The University of Quebec in Trois-Rivières, Hockey Canada and Hockey Quebec were interested in understanding women hockey players’ motivation to play hockey, sources of inspiration, ways of connecting with role models, and obstacles that have challenged their continued participation in hockey.
  • Through a survey and focus group discussions, women hockey players reported that stimulation and challenge were the most important sources of intrinsic motivation.
  • Participants also stated that parents, family and friends were the people who inspired their hockey pathways. For competitive players, professional hockey players were also important sources of inspiration.
  • The most significant barriers to participation were environmental in nature, including access to facilities and the distance to play and practice.

The findings of this study reinforce the importance of prioritizing a diversified sport experience, focusing on process-oriented motives, connecting players with role models, and reducing environmental barriers to women’s participation in hockey.

The race, gender and leadership equity in sport project | Black Canadian Coaches Association, University of Toronto and University of Windsor

  • The Black Canadian Coaches Association teamed up with researchers at the University of Toronto and the University of Windsor to examine the experiences of Black Female Coach Mentorship Program (BFCMP) mentors and mentees.
  • The research team observed mentorship sessions and conducted interviews with inaugural BFCMP mentors and mentees.
  • Participants benefited from mentorship because of the opportunities to share knowledge, instill confidence and leadership skills, develop friendship and community, and create and enjoy a safe space.
  • Safe spaces are especially important because racialized women coaches in Canada are often ‘the only one’ in their sport or institution and experience subtle and overt racism and sexist exclusions across sports and institutions.

The research findings suggest that creating mentorship programs, or at a minimum, opportunities for racialized women coaches to talk to one another can better foster the participation and retention of racialized girls and women in sport as athletes and coaches.

Who is climbing? Understanding participants within Climbing Escalade Canada | Climbing Escalade Canada & University of Waterloo

  • Climbing Escalade Canada (CEC) partnered with researchers from University of Waterloo to develop a project that would establish a better understanding of CEC members in terms of equity, diversity and inclusion within the Canadian sport climbing community.
  • An online survey demonstrated that gender and racial identity had a significant impact on climbers’ motivations to climb, as well as constraints to participation. For example, women reported being significantly more motivated by the social aspects of climbing compared to men and gender minorities.
  • Women, gender minorities and racialized respondents were all more likely to perceive climbing as a high-cost sport which has limited their participation opportunities. Interestingly, racialized climbers reported more constraints to participation than white climbers, regardless of their gender.
  • Women, gender minorities and racialized groups all noted climbing experiences being negatively impacted by a fear of discrimination, exclusion and lower sense of being accepted.

CEC will share the findings of the survey with provincial and territorial partners and with local climbing facilities to develop a recommended action plan to address participation barriers highlighted. Awareness of motivators and barriers to participation is the first step to developing welcoming environments.

Understanding female participation in golf across Ontario | Golf Ontario & University of Windsor

  • Golf Ontario and researchers from the University of Windsor surveyed golf courses in Ontario to gain a deeper understanding of female golf participation, with a particular focus on identifying participation levels and identifying the capacity of golf courses to offer programming for women and girls.
  • They found significantly lower golf participation rates among women and girls compared to men and boys. Notably, membership rates among men and boys are increasing year over year, yet membership among women and girls is remaining low with insignificant growth.
  • The more human resources, financial, infrastructure, planning and development, and external relations capacity a club possesses, the more likely they are to achieve programming goals for women and girls.
  • Golf courses that have a strategy and vision in place, identify new ways of doing things, have access to quality facilities, clear policies and procedures, and open communication with their community experience greater participation levels from women and girls.
  • When golf courses have passionate, committed, and knowledgeable staff, they are more able to provide accessible, quality programs targeting women and girls’ participation, and have more women participating in golf at their club.

Golf Ontario hopes to offer or facilitate support for strategic planning efforts at the club level, modifications to game and facility setup, and recruitment of individuals invested in providing participation opportunities for women and girls, which are likely to increase course capacity to deliver those programs.

Using the kinetic profile of vertical jumping tasks to identify if differences exist between age cohorts within Field Hockey Canada’s female high-performance development pathway athletes | Field Hockey Ontario, Field Hockey Canada & University of Toronto

  • Field Hockey Canada, Field Hockey Ontario and researchers from the University of Toronto partnered to identify key benchmark characteristics across the female athlete cohorts in Field Hockey Canada’s and Field Hockey Ontario’s high performance development pathway.
  • The goal of this research is to understand key performance gaps in the female high performance development pathway cohorts and identify key benchmark characteristics that can be translated into training and injury prevention program design.
  • Findings coming soon…

Changes in physical activity after immigrating to Canada: Iranian women’s views towards active lifestyles | Canadian Women and Sport & University of Ottawa

  • The University of Ottawa and Canadian Women and Sport teamed up to explore how Iranian women immigrating to Canada experience their participation in physical activity after moving to country with no sex segregation culture.
  • Through semi-structured interviews, researchers found that Iranian women become more physically active after immigrating to Canada, embrace the choice to wear the hijab or not and to practice physical activity in non-segregated environment and appreciate the culture of physical activity for all
  • Whether they wore the hijab or not, all participants were highly critical of mandatory hijab and sex segregation of all public spaces, and positively viewed their immigration to Canada as enabling a more active lifestyle, however all women valued gender-segregated opportunities to practice certain sports, swim, go to the gym or take classes for women-only
  • Encouraging limited contact sport and physical activity that can be practiced in family, such as volleyball, badminton, tennis or aerobics can be a way to attract more Muslim women into being physically active
  • Muslim girls would benefit from seeing more models of women and girl athletes or practicing physical activity wearing Muslim activewear, in the media.