Inclusive practice in sport coaching
Issues of inclusivity have been prevalent in many spheres of sporting involvement over recent decades and will be a significant area of interest for individuals wishing to become sports coaches. Increasing levels of scrutiny surrounding areas of sporting practice have led to significant debate in this area of study, with numerous scholars identifying exclusionary practice in relation to special educational needs and disability (SEND), gender, age, class, ethnicity and sexuality (Stidder and Hayes, 2013). Such issues have gained further prominence through the introduction of the Equality Act (2010) which has attempted to outlaw exclusionary practice in society. The Act sets out to end discrimination experienced by individuals within society in relation to education, employment and access to facilities, goods and services. In legal terms it covers four main areas, which are: direct discrimination, indirect discrimination, harassment and victimisation. Whilst generally speaking discrimination in any context is normally unlawful, there are some important exceptions within this area. There may be specific roles within society that have a vital physical requirement which may legitimately exclude some individuals. For example, having a major physical disability would mean that an individual could justifiably not be considered for the role of an active firefighter due to the nature of the work undertaken. There may be other examples of this nature, but it is also worth considering and challenging some pre-conceived ideas and stereotypes about what people can and cannot do. It is within this context that this chapter investigates the professional practice of a sports coach in relation to inclusivity and social inclusion. The importance of developing an awareness of these societal contexts of exclusionary practice can be highlighted through the recent experience of the England manager, Roy Hodgson, who was placed under the media spotlight for comments related to Andros Townsend in one of England’s pre-World-Cup friendlies in 2014. Whilst Hodgson was eventually exonerated from having made comments which were racially offensive to the individual in question, it highlighted certain sensitivities
around this issue and followed on from other high-profile incidents of alleged racial abuse in professional football. It is evident from this example that coaches will have the responsibility to develop awareness and an understanding of practices that particular groups in society may perceive as exclusionary. As we navigate through this chapter we aim to provide coaches with knowledge and understanding of inclusivity and how it can inform practice.