Empowering children from socially vulnerable backgrounds through the use of roles in sport education

García López, Luis M. and Kirk, David (2022) Empowering children from socially vulnerable backgrounds through the use of roles in sport education. Sport, Education and Society, 27 (6). pp. 676-688. ISSN 1357-3322 (https://doi.org/10.1080/13573322.2021.1897563)

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Sport and physical education are considered a powerful tool to empower children from socially vulnerable backgrounds (SVB). The purpose of this study was to analyse coaches' perceptions of the effect of the Sport Education (SE) pedagogical model, and use of the allocation of roles beyond player in particular, on the empowerment of children from SVB who participated in a community-based programme. Participants included three coaches, the lead researcher and 31 nine- to eleven-year-olds (17 boys and 14 girls) from diverse ethnic groups (Roma, North African, Latin-American, Caucasian and sub-Saharan). A 36 one-hour session's SE season was implemented. The data were obtained by four focus groups (before implementing the programme; at the end of the pre-season; after the first round of the formal competition; when the programme was completed) and a diary of the lead researcher who participated as participant observer. Coaches' perceived that SE roles were authentic empowering strategies to help children from SVB to have experiences of meaningful participation in a safe environment, sharing power through the responsibilities they assumed, collaboration, and challenging gender stereotypes. In order to accomplish those results, SE had a flexible implementation in terms of duration and roles assignment to become more student-centred, roles were clearly defined to guarantee a safe environment for the children coaches showed an authentic ethic of care, and gender stereotypes were broken through going beyond the equality of opportunities.