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Participating in sport can have many benefits for lesbian, gay or bisexual (LGB) youth. Sport has the potential to bring joy, distraction and mindfulness that frees LGB youth from worry and fear in other domains of their lives. Sport can also provide important social connections and support for LGB youth as they negotiate coming out.

In this blog, we explain why LGB youth often feel unsafe in sport. Aligned with a movement to understand the nuances of different gender and sexual identities we focus on LGB identities. We also recommend 5 strategies that coaches and other sport leaders should consider to create more inclusive cultures in their teams and organizations for LGB and transgender, and queer or questioning (LGBTQ+) identities.

Feeling unsafe

Unfortunately, many LGB youth miss the benefits of sport due to a variety of constraints and barriers that lead to a decrease in sport participation compared to heterosexual youth (Greenspan et al., 2017). For LGB youth who remain in sport, their experiences may be negatively affected or they may seek out other activities in which they feel less stigmatized.

Young athletes and participants experience sexual stigma from multiple stakeholders (for example, coaches, teammates, teachers, parents and guardians). Sexual stigma may not necessarily lead to obvious homophobic behaviours and violence toward LGB athletes and participants. However, that stigma is ever-present in their stories. Sexual stigma affects all young athletes and participants, regardless of their sexual identity.

Female athlete struggling with mental health after trainingAn important reason LGB youth don’t participate in sports is because they feel unsafe. Obvious homophobia often happens in locker rooms with young people using harmful language (Greenspan et al., 2019). By linking words such as ‘gay’ and ‘queer’ to either weakness or mistakes, then individuals are displaying homonegative and heteronormative acts. Humour and anti-gay physical aggression are forms of obvious homophobia that create unsafe spaces for LGB athletes (Smits et al., 2021).

How an organization, team or coach prevents or responds to these acts plays a significant role in whether LGB youth feel safe in sport. But not all coaches feel equipped or prepared to support LGB youth. And, organizational resources to guide coaches aren’t always available.

Strategies for coaches and organizations

In an upcoming chapter in the Routlege Handbook of Coaching Children in Sport (in press), we recommend 5 strategies that coaches and other sport leaders should consider to create a more inclusive culture in their teams and organizations. Here, we summarize those strategies and link them to helpful resources:

  1. Group of football fans holding soccer ball coloredRecognize that participation alone doesn’t mean inclusion: Don’t define ‘success’ by how many LGBTQ+ athletes and participants are taking part in sport. Some may be questioning their identities or haven’t disclosed their identities to others. Safety is reflected in formal rules and policies as well as the more subtle ways we shape our interactions (Canadian Women & Sport, 2017). It’s important to develop an environment in which everyone feels safe, respected, equal, and like they can have a positive experience.
  2. Engage in education and self-reflection: Be an ally and do your homework. Learn about sexual stigma and work to find ways to counter these negative beliefs in your own actions and those of others. Remember that we may unintentionally express homonegative attitudes or insinuations within our sport or coaching practice (Krane, 2016).
  3. Develop partnerships: Seek out and build relationships with local and national LGBTQ+, transgender, and queer or questioning (LGBTQ) advocacy groups. They can help you find the resources and training you need. You can also find resources that are free and easy to download. In many instances, these organizations are already doing this work and you can invest in their efforts (for example, YouthREX 2019Queersmart 2018The Trevor Project 2020).
  4. Recruit and support individuals who identify as LGBTQ+: The intentional recruitment of LGBTQ+ young people as well as LGBTQ+ parents or guardians in leadership positions (for example, as coaches or directors) is a way to build safe and inclusive environments. They can provide diverse perspectives and raise questions about exclusionary policies and practices. However, be careful not to tokenize, that is recruit LGBTQ+ people as a symbolic effort. Be aware not to expect these individuals to contribute inequitably to work being done in your organization. Always being the one to educate and ‘wave the flag’ leads to burnout and fatigue (Trussell et al., 2018).
  5. Evaluate organizational policies and practices: Evaluate if your organization and leaders (for example, coaches) are using inclusive language. Examine if your policies and practices reflect and respect the diversity of the broader community. Consider policies and practices involving statements on websites, inclusive language on registration forms, LGBTQ+-friendly images and promotional materials, special events, and more. Websites and the language used on registration forms are often an important marker for families to decide if an organization will be a welcoming space or not (Trussell, 2020). Secondly, establish clear guidelines and codes of conduct for how instances of abuse will be treated. Athletes, participants and families need to know how they can report incidents of abuse and if they’ll be supported. 

Coaches and other sport leaders play an important role in creating safe, welcoming and supporting contexts for athletes and participants. They can also be important allies in LGBTQ+ young peoples’ lives. All stakeholders in sport need to think critically about inclusion and how to create a more just and equitable sport system that serves all youth. 

In a recent survey, Quebec women identified 3 primary sources of motivation for participating in hockey: desire for self-accomplishment, enjoyment, and acquisition and mastery of new skills. When coaches and sport leaders are sensitive to these motivations and provide supportive environments with positive role models, they support girls and women’s hockey participation.

Using an evidence-based approach, the Coaching Association of Canada (CAC) developed tools to improve the experiences of coaches in mentorship programs. Training for Effective Mentees is a free resource that equips mentees with the knowledge, connections, and tools to create a better mentorship experience.

A positive social environment has a big impact on girls’ sport participation. For many girls, a sense of social belonging enhances their performance. Girls are also motivated to stay in sport to make friends and be part of a team. Knowing this can help coaches keep girls engaged in sport.

For youth soccer players, injury prevalence and patterns vary with age. A recent study found that injuries tend to increase as players get older. Joint sprains and bone stress injuries are most common in athletes aged 16 to 18, while younger athletes are more prone to growth plate injuries. Tailoring injury prevention measures to age can help coaches reduce injury rates.

Photo credit: Conestoga College Condors Athletics


Highlights


Anyone involved in sport knows that confidence is key. Whether coach, athlete or participant, the importance (and fragility) of confidence can’t be overlooked.

The vital and tenuous nature of confidence means steps must be taken to safeguard the confidence of racialized women coaches, who are sometimes the “only” in their organization. They’re facing isolation and otherness that can hinder their confidence and wellbeing.

Mentorships are shown to enhance confidence in racialized athletes (Brandon, 2012) and women coaches (Allen & Reid, 2019). Yet, no current research details the benefits for Black women coaches in Canada. This article builds on previous research (Joseph & McKenzie, 2022; Joseph, McKenzie, & Brown, 2021; Joseph, Razack, & McKenzie, 2021) examining barriers faced by and resilience of racialized coaches in Canada.

Here we share findings on the importance of building knowledge and nurturing confidence for sport coaches who identify as Black women. We also offer best practices for optimizing bringing in (racialized) women coaches across sport and retaining them.

Race, gender and confidence in coaching

Sport coaches aim to build confidence in their athletes. Coaches need self-confidence to optimize the support they can provide. To this end, confidence is among the most influential, extensively studied psychological concepts (Machida et al., 2017).

Confidence has been shown to be associated with many positive attributes and outcomes, including goal orientation (Vosloo et al., 2009), lower cognitive and physiological anxiety (Cresswell & Hodge, 2004), and ultimately, optimized performance (Moritz et al., 2000). Improving confidence has been identified as a pivotal component of sport performance for athletes, however, coaches must also have self-confidence.

Head Coach Tara Mrakic, Vanier College Women’s Flag Football. Photo credit: Vanier College Athletics.

Because coach self-confidence and performance are important parts of athlete self-confidence and performance, programs that support coaches can be critical to the success of an entire sport organization. Coach confidence can be built through social support and environmental comfort. This can be harder to achieve for Black women coaches, given racism and sexism in sport (Fielding‐Lloyd & Mean, 2011; Joseph, Razack, & McKenzie, 2021).

In the U.S., gendered racism has been found to influence the access, opportunities, retention, promotion and overall experiences of racialized women, specifically in sport leadership roles (Cunningham et al., 2021; Nesseler et al., 2021). This body of research emphasizes it’s important to provide more opportunities for racialized women to coach, so they can learn from others who share their experiences. And also so that they can influence more women to enter and stay in coaching.

There’s scarce research on the intersections of race, gender and confidence in Canadian coaching. What little research has been done shows that coaching leadership is predominantly white and male in Ontario University Athletics (OUA) (Joseph, Razack, & McKenzie, 2021). For example, only 22% of OUA coaches who responded to a survey identified as racialized (Joseph, Razack, & McKenzie, 2021, p. 8). Another study of university athletics across Canada showed only 17% of head coaches and 22% of assistant coaches identified as women (Donnelly, Norman, & Kidd, 2013).

The major takeaway is that more work is needed to make Canadian sport coaching more equitable and diverse, from grassroots to high performance. Mentorship programs can be a buffer against cultural norms and social inequities affecting the confidence of underrepresented sport stakeholders, such as women and people of color.

Research with the Black Female Coaches Mentorship Program

Mentorship is designed to enhance the recruitment, retention and promotion of coaches across sport by advancing coach skill, comfort and confidence. In 2020, the Black Female Coaches Mentorship Program (BFCMP) began as a way to address the gap in mentorship for Black women coaches in Canada. We aimed to further understand Black women coaches’ experiences through research with the BFCMP.

As part of this research, we observed 3 mentorship sessions and conducted semi-structured, 1‑on‑1 interviews with 15 of 27 inaugural mentors and mentees. One of our objectives was to determine what role mentorships play in building confidence among Black women coaches.

As the only woman coach or only racialized coach in their organization, most participants in the BFCMP described feeling alone and unable to connect deeply with other coaches in their organization. However, there are dozens of Black women sport coaches who share their experiences across many sports organizations in all provinces. And there’s significant potential for the coaches to learn from each other. They just needed an opportunity to meet.

Coaches joined the BFCMP wanting to network with other people of their racial background and gender. An unexpected outcome for many participants was the range of knowledge they acquired by interacting with other coaches. Even seasoned mentors learned from mentees. Knowledge about self-care, navigating racism and sexism, and understanding how sport systems operate was imperative to improving their coaching.

Another essential area of learning was in building confidence. Because of the discrimination they had previously faced, some coaches doubted their skills, abilities, decisions and even self-worth. By seeing others in similar situations who have succeeded, the coaches in BFCMP could shift their lens from diffidence to confidence.

Below, the 3 main themes of our findings (friendship, learning and speaking up) point to the importance of building knowledge and confidence in Black women’s communities.

Theme 1: Friendship

Many BFCMP participants have few sport coaches in their communities who look like them. Mentors and mentees expressed learning through the experiences of other Black women was the biggest boost to their confidence. The learnings ranged from coaching best practices and communication techniques to styling hair and sharing home-cooked recipes.

“[The] best part was connecting with women [who] look like me, learning best practices, and celebrating everyone’s accomplishments.”

– Tiffany, mentor

Mentee Nika echoed a similar sentiment: “That was super cool, learning about other people’s experiences. … I realize that a lot of things that I have been feeling, everybody [in that] group has felt. … On the calls, I would see some girls in bonnets. I would see some girls in braids, twists. … We talk about ‘How do I make fufu?’ … It was great vibes. Then we had [a mentor] talking about what it’s like having two kids and being a successful coach.”

Participants felt they really got to know other women through the power of storytelling. For example, mentor Jolene and mentee Ella both thrived because the program was one of the first opportunities they’d had to connect with other Black women coaches to support their learning. They emphasized the interpersonal support gained through individual and group mentorship. For example:

“I loved meeting with my mentees because we got to really talk …  really dive into understanding who they are, not only as a coach but as a person, … giving them the objective view of what situations [they] are going through and giving them a different scope to look through. I loved going through that with my mentees and they’ve taught me a lot in return.”

– Jolene, mentor

Ella noted, “The best part of the program for me was the conversation and mentorship I had with my mentor in particular. … [Monthly sessions] provided an opportunity to reconnect with the other mentees and see how they were doing.” Knowing the mentees “as a person” with a regular “opportunity to reconnect” was critical to the program’s success.

By reflecting, connecting and offering advice, mentors and mentees can impart knowledge to each other. Mentor-only sessions were part of the training for the mentorship program. But Ariel reveals that mentees would have appreciated “a better opportunity to connect with other mentees to socialize on our own on a zoom call and ask each other questions and get to know each other our own way.”

The importance of spaces to connect can’t be understated. Combating loneliness is a key way to build confidence. Learning about others allowed for learning about the self.

Action items for coach educators and sport administrators:

  • Promote means for Head and Assistant Coaches and aspiring coaches to talk and socialize
  • Connect coaches internationally with a mentor who shares some of their experiences
  • Create mentee-only sessions as well as mentor-only sessions to encourage individuals to connect with one another

Theme 2: Learning

Participants in the BFCMP discussed the ways their confidence soared through learning. Many anticipated they would expand their knowledge of coaching tactics and techniques through the program. Instead, they were surprised to learn a wide range of self-directed soft-skills, important components of professional development (PD).

“Because my mentee was actually in my sport, I thought, OK, it’s going to be technically focused … and it wasn’t at all… There’s so much beyond that’s self-development, self-perspective, self-confidence.”

Lisa, mentor

The skill Jolene taught and reinforced with her mentees was positive self-talk: “I taught them to make sure they’re reflecting on their self-talk because, as Black women, we often have self-deprecating thoughts. And that made me check myself. How often do I check-in with … how I think about myself or how I talk to myself?”

It can be difficult to navigate barriers related to becoming a certified coach. The process can also be costly and confusing.  Sarah believed Black women coaches can be discouraged by the complex National Coaching Certification Program (NCCP) process. However, she suggests mentorship as a way to gain comfort and confidence. “[I needed] a little bit more understanding of the NCCP process and how you get your levels, and I know that other women were more comfortable with it because … they’ve probably done the coaching stuff. … I worked with a [mentor] so I could feel more comfortable with it.”

When rules and practices are confusing for some outsiders, systemic discrimination can follow. Hauck (2020) found that the NCCP is inherently racist as inequitable policies including expensive training, on-site education and complicated websites disadvantage some excellent Indigenous coaches who are unaware of how the system operates. Mentorship is a way to help overcome barriers to coaching entry presented by lack of certification. Mentors and mentees noted both formal PD sessions and informal PD conversations were a valued part of the program that increased coach learning and understanding. 

“[BFCMP] changed me tremendously through the wonderful conversations I had with the mentees and mentors as it gave more understanding and comprehension about myself, the world and perception of the world towards Black women in sport. Through their mentorship, they assured me with great words of wisdom on how to tackle the negative perceptions and how to leverage my identity as a Black woman in sport to get through the doors of opportunity.”

Ella, mentee

Participants of mentorship programs clearly benefit from a wide range of knowledge about self, about processes, and about navigating racism and sexism in sport. All are important aspects of coaching and self-confidence.

Action items for coach educators and sport administrators:

  • Invite coaches for training on formal and informal aspects of the work, openly acknowledging that race and gender factor into the field of coaching
  • Include psychological concepts like ‘self-talk’ in training as an essential coaching skill

Theme 3: Speaking up and public speaking

Participants supported each other by providing strategies to improve their experiences and their representation as knowledgeable experts. Mentee Nika discussed how Black women can become siloed within society

“[We talked about] creating more spaces for minority groups to speak out, not just on topics about Black Lives Matter. There’s so much knowledge that [we] have that I feel we are kind of boxed in … You’re only reaching out to me for this [anti-racism work]. It’s not for the other things that I have knowledge on … In a sense, [mentorship built] up my self-worth … I’ve learned to stay true to myself, stand in my own shoes, and speak up for myself more too.”

– Nika, mentee

Nika believes that if more Black women coaches are invited to share their knowledge, that will elevate how they’re seen in the broader sport community. For Black women coaches, being heard and seen in public means that they can be role models for others. When Black women are the only ones in their organization, and are doubting themselves, they may see their inclusion as tokenism. When they’re confident, they see their inclusion as merited and an opportunity for the next generation of coaches to imagine their own potential and future inclusion. This aligns with what mentor Jolene stated:

“I’ve been turning the idea of tokenism into a chance for me to open up as a representation, a reflection of those who maybe need me in that space to know that they too can take up this space and be confident in it … Playing at the national level and coaching at the provincial level gives those kids who look up to me a chance to think that hey, I belong here too. See it, believe it, achieve it.”

Jolene, mentor

Nora mentions the advantage the program provided her in speaking truth to the experiences of Black women coaches because she finally understood her situation wasn’t unique. Now, she has a network of people to use as a sounding board: “I [was] stressed out like, ‘OK, how do I do this? I wonder if people understand this?’ … When dealing with a man, ‘Is [he] gonna take it the wrong way because of my race or because I’m a female?’ I was always second guessing myself. But now I have the confidence to … bounce this idea off of someone else, or ask a coach or another female [who] might have gone through the same thing and get her point of view. I feel more comfortable attacking these situations and it’s giving me more confidence. Now I speak out against stuff. [I’m] more vocal about my passions and the things that I believe in.”

Through the program, coaches built their confidence in speaking up and speaking out about their shared experiences. They came to understand the benefits of being seen and heard.

Action items for coach educators and sport administrators:

  • Encourage honest sharing about experiences of racism and sexism, and strategies for change
  • Provide opportunities for Black women coaches to speak publicly about a range of topics

Practical takeaways for putting research into action

  1. Safer spaces: Create safer spaces that promote belonging and community, particularly among racialized women, given the isolation and otherness to which they’re susceptible and to which they’re subjected. Opportunities for knowledge exchange can prevent the loss of great talent and can stimulate peak performance and retention.
  2. Sponsorship: Provide opportunities for professional development and coach licensing, assisting coaches in overcoming the financial and systemic challenges of becoming a certified coach. Information sessions and discussions about how to navigate certification processes are essential, especially if the aim is to promote equity and inclusivity.
  3. Platform for dialogue: Provide a platform for racialized women coaches to speak up and speak out on various topics inside and outside of sport. Black women coaches are capable of being subject matter experts on conversations outside of anti-racism or sexism. Holding space to engage in many topics benefits the confidence of women coaches, both personally and professionally, and demonstrates that organizations value their voices.

Mentorship programs offer Black women coaches a one-stop shop: a safe space, sponsorship, and a platform to dialogue and deliberate. These factors all greatly contribute to enhancing coach confidence. And, making them available through mentorship is a win for all stakeholders involved.

Conclusion

“What it’s done for me? It’s just I, I can’t put it in words. It’s amazing, an amazing program.”

– Nora, mentee

The Black woman mentor “goes beyond the institutional goal of solely promoting cognitive growth and focuses on the socioemotional well-being … understanding the marginalization and invisibility that Black [women] face” (Greene, 2020, p. 2). Through mentorship, the development of relationships among Black women can nurture self-confidence to better position them to navigate society. If sport is to be more equitable, feminist and anti-racist, then increasing opportunities for building confidence and relationships must be a focal point.

Based on their lived experience, women participants understood the profound effects of racism and sexism in sport. Through their conversations, the participants gained knowledge of how to address trauma and pain through self-care and self-confidence, how to conceptualize their goals and ambitions, and how to resist systems of domination. Having obtained that combined knowledge, they can help close the gap between anti-racism and feminist theory on one hand, and lived practices, speech habits, and ways of occupying space in sport coaching on the other.

Mentorship offers a methodology to develop the confidence of Black women coaches, fostering professional and personal growth through formal and informal means. Race-specific and gender-specific mentorship programs protect and promote the confidence of racialized women coaches, cultivating optimal performance in both athletes and coaches.

Taking time to reflect on growth experienced during a sport season is a great way for student-athletes to reinvest in their mental health. In addition to setting goals for the future, athletes should take time to think about and celebrate how they’ve improved or what they’ve achieved. Coaches can help athletes reflect on their growth by hosting exit meetings with each athlete at the end of a season.

Move over dads, moms make great coaches too! Coaching allows moms to connect with their child outside of home and helps foster self-esteem among child athletes. As coaches, moms can become important examples of women in sport leadership positions and serve as positive role models for their athletes.

This blog post provides a recap of the third webinar in the 4‑part mini-series Engaging Girls and Women in Sport. SIRC and Canadian Women & Sport co-hosted the mini-series, which you can access or learn more about by visiting our SIRC Expert Webinars page.

Black girls and women face significant hurdles as athletes and coaches. Those hurdles are on top of barriers faced by all women and girls in sport. By engaging and empowering Black coaches in the community, you can have an immense impact on the positive sport experiences of young Black girls and women. In this webinar, panelists explored the lived experience of Black community coaches. The panelists discussed ways to decrease barriers and increase support for Black youth and adults to coach at the community level.

Webinar panelists included:

Q: Why is the representation of Black women and girls in coaching important, especially at the community level and how can we achieve it?

Black female volleyball coach with her athletesAll panelists agreed that representation is essential for Black coaches. As Shauna Bookal put it, “See It. Be It. Achieve It. One of the main reasons why young Black girls do not get involved in sport is they do not see someone they can relate to.”

Having role models is especially important for young athletes. Role models not only build connections, but also provide athletes with guidance and help shape their life trajectories. Representation in coaching can be especially important at the grassroots level.

“It was great to have someone who understood what I was going through and understood what I had to face every day to make it out of my neighbourhood. I realized I was blessed to have a Black male coach to start with and then a Black female coach in my teenage years when I needed a role model.”

Shauna Bookal

One way to achieve better representation, according to panelists, is by increasing opportunities available for Black coaches and athletes. Another way is to foster interest and participation in administrative and management roles. Providing funding and scholarships, creating mentorships and focusing on early engagement can all help to move closer to this representation goal.

Q: What are unique barriers Black women and girls may face when getting involved in community coaching?

Some challenges that may discourage Black women and girls from becoming community coaches include language, accessibility and costs, as well as social norms.

Language is an important way to build inclusion. Participation levels are going to suffer if participants aren’t able to understand the language that’s used in coaching programs when it contains unfamiliar vocabulary and terms.

“…some of the language barriers are words I didn’t see on a regular basis growing up. I know for some people… if they get frustrated about what they’re trying to read or what you’re trying to say, that can turn [them] off.”

Shauna Bookal

The cost of participating in coaching programs can be a significant barrier for some participants. Other individuals may not be able to take time off from work to attend full-day courses. In addition to registration fees, access to programs can also be limited by physical barriers (such as getting to venues) and virtual barriers (limited access to computers, tables or the Internet). Finally, not knowing about available programs and opportunities is another limiting factor. “Allowing people to have the opportunity [and] making people aware of the opportunities [are] crucial,” says Mariah Wright.

Too often, Black coaches face the unique challenge of being compared to other coaches who aren’t Black. For example, their differences from traditional coaching styles are labeled as incorrect. “You can’t fit a circle in a square hole,” emphasizes Shauna Bookal. “You can’t have me be like all the other coaches [who] are out there because we aren’t the same.”

Q: What can be done to better support and increase representation of Black women and girls in coaching roles and as athletes at the national level?

Canadian thrower Camryn Rogers throws during the Women's Hammer Throw finals during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games on Tuesday, August 03, 2021. Photo by Mark Blinch/COC *MANDATORY CREDIT*The panelists identified several areas where changes would have the most impact.

  1. Financial support and community outreach

Cost is a major barrier. If sport organizations can offer funding for individuals from marginalized communities to pursue coaching careers, especially over the long term, many of these individuals would welcome such support. In addition to financial support, organizations can enact change by cultivating symbiotic relationships. For example, hosting free clinics in communities, with the people who participate in these clinics volunteering in return, will benefit everyone and can increase community involvement and sport participation.

  1. Understanding Black culture and experiences

Recognizing Eurocentric biases in traditional coaching programs and certifications is another way of supporting representation. Panelists emphasized that coaching Black athletes can be significantly different from coaching athletes of other backgrounds. It’s important for coaches to understand Black culture and Black athletes’ experiences. Education programs can help address this for coaches.

“Black hair is a story on its own and in gymnastics, there is a typical hairstyle: a slicked back bun [that] you have to make nice and tight. Curly afros cannot do that. It hurts us to be able to do that. So, understanding that when you have a mandatory hairstyle that one Black girl cannot do, that now affects self-esteem. It starts adding in more things that’s not even dealing with our sport or the actual competition. It is so important to understand culture.”

Brittnee Habbib
  1. Engaging Black parents, guardians and communities

To help build diversity in sport, engage Black parents, guardians and communities. Engagement can help them see value in participating in sport and give them confidence that their child will be safe in that environment.

Q: What’s the appropriate and respectful language that sport organizations should be aware of and use around the Black community?

Asking your stakeholders is the best approach, say the panelists. Everyone’s different and it’s disrespectful to assume you know what’s respectful, as assumptions are often driven by societal stereotypes.

“If you don’t know, ask questions… Even if you have four Black athletes in your program, don’t just ask one and assume all of them want to be called the same thing. Humble yourselves and ask questions.

Brittnee Habbib

The language that coaches use can have a tremendous impact on the athlete, both positive and negative. For this reason, “as coaches, we need to be more intentional [and] speak with purpose when we do talk to our girls,” says Mariah Wright.

Q: How can community sport organizations engage Black communities to develop inclusion?

Clubs need to do their research and understand how they can best interact with the community. There are many avenues to build engagement. Clubs can participate in events, such as Family Day or Sports Day, or work with schools, established groups and local community centres. Another strategy can be organizing “try-it” days to let children try sports and providing information for parents and guardians to address common concerns. Clubs need to be proactive in helping families navigate barriers to participation, from cost to transportation to programs. Finally, a powerful way to reach out to Black communities can be by identifying allies and promoters, especially within the Black community, who can talk about the sport programs and their benefits.

This webinar highlighted some of the barriers that Black girls and women experience in sport. It also shared ways that organizations and individuals can increase support for Black athletes and coaches. The conversation among the panelists emphasized the need to have broader discussions about the lived experiences of Black coaches and athletes. These discussions can be an important step toward creating much-needed changes across sport communities.

About the panelists

Find out more about the webinar panelists, access a recording of the Engaging Black Community Coaches webinar or learn more about the Engaging Girls and Women in Sport mini-series by visiting the SIRC Expert Webinars page.

About Canadian Women & Sport

Canadian Women & Sport is dedicated to creating an equitable and inclusive Canadian sport and physical activity system that empowers girls and women. The aim is to empower them as active participants and leaders, within and through sport. With a focus on systemic change, we partner with sport organizations, governments and leaders to challenge the status quo and build better sport through gender equity.

For Masters athletes, a quality coach provides a range of benefits that distinguish training and competition from fitness or exercise. These include enhanced confidence, learning processes, lifestyle habits, and the creation of an environment that meets their need for affiliation.