COVID-19 has presented a unique opportunity for community sports organizations and their coaches to rethink their practices and work toward greater inclusivity. In Canada, few opportunities exist in the community for youth to practice on their own through unstructured play and unstructured learning environments. This episode explores how we can create these unstructured sporting environments in Canada, using programs like Kicks in the UK as an example. We also explore how to inspire youth to achieve greater individual involvement in the sport, both in terms of participation and individual involvement within games.
Thousands of athletes and coaches across Canada participate in organized sports (Solutions Research Group Consultants Inc., 2014; Gumulka, Barr, Lasby & Brownlee, 2005). Community sport organizations (CSOs) are critical in the quest for youth sport participation and without them, athletes and coaches would not be able to participate to the same extent (Patterson and Parent, 2017). Soccer remains one of Canada’s most popular sports (Solutions Research Group Consultants Inc., 2014). The nation’s biggest province, Ontario, is the home to more than 600 youth soccer clubs, contributing to more than 10,000 members (Ontario Soccer, 2020). In the Elgin Middlesex region of London, Ontario alone, there are twenty-seven different clubs that youth soccer players can join (Elgin Middlesex District Soccer League, 2020). Although this provides young players with a plethora of options, it may also create unnecessary competition between clubs for players and coaches (Edwards & Washington, 2013; Hall et al., 2003). This study aims to identify the elements of organizational capacity and leadership that may be valuable for CSOs to ensure athlete and coach attraction and retention, while avoiding athlete and coach transfer from one club to another within the same municipality.