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Section 3

Sport and Employability: A Continuum of Programmes

In general sport and employability programmes rarely rely solely on sport and there are three broad variants on the pure sport type of provision (Coalter, 2007).

These are as follows:  

Plus Sport 

  • This refers to youth work organisations which use sport’s popularity as a fly paper to attract young people to programmes of vocational education and training.

  • There is limited use of sport for experiential learning, with an emphasis placed on formal vocational training and youth work. 

  • For some participants the employability aspects of the programme may be much more important than the sport.

Sport Plus 1

  • This entails the use of sport to develop and consolidate mentoring relationships (and also assists in retaining participants in the programme). 

  • It is also facilitates the experiential learning of a range of soft skills (e.g., teamwork; perceived self-efficacy; communication; conflict management). 

  • It continues throughout the programme for its presumed positive outcomes and also may be part of its ongoing attraction. 

  • However, in this approach there is no systematic and conscious attempt to integrate, support and reinforce the issues addressed in the personal learning plans and workshops via sporting practice. Also, the supposed positive outcomes of sports participation may be assumed rather than evaluated.

Sport Plus 2

  • This approach also uses sport to develop and consolidate mentoring relationships established early in the programme (and retain participants in the programme). 

  • It also contributes to the experiential learning of a range of soft skills and capacities (e.g., teamwork, perceived self-efficacy, communication, conflict management). 

  • However, as the programme progresses, this approach also seeks to fully integrate experiential learning through sport into the programme by using the sporting activity to illustrate and reinforce the issues being dealt with in the parallel life skills workshops. 

  • There is a systematic emphasis on the relevance of all programme activities to the development of employability, with sports sessions designed to clearly reflect and reinforce workshop content.  

  • The Sport Plus 2 approach to experiential learning may be more suited to those who had failed in the school system and feel less confident in formal didactic workshops. 

  • Participants can also adopt a more systematic approach to progression via the completion of workbooks reflecting on their sporting experiences and perceived learning outcomes. For example, they could be asked to identify the benefits of taking part in sport, outline the main rules, skills required and review their own performance and how they might improve.

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