One of the objectives of the project Future for Children ++ is to develop a European-based coach education programme for youth sport. In order to do that, our team explored the necessary key components, providing an overview regarding the problem at hand, defining the term “inclusion” as well as barriers to organized sports, which low-SES families tend to face regularly.
In this article, we describe the practical barriers to participation in sport for children:
Recent research has also explored the connection between physical literacy in children and adolescents and coaching efficacy, showing significant associations between the parameters. The concept of physical literacy combines several domains related to exercise and PA and is not restricted to improving physical skills, but also incorporates cognitive and affective elements, which in turn develop physical competence. Of course, physical literacy applies to all children regardless of SES, with a need to address person-centered barriers to participation, which any child might have. However, it is important to acknowledge that access to sports can be more difficult depending on SES and the most impactful barriers faced by low-SES children are time, cost and location.
Children may wish to participate in sports, but cannot do so because of their own or their parents’ schedules (including working hours), a lack of resources, or the location of the sports offering. Unlike the personal barriers, these practical barriers can hardly be addressed by the coach. Instead, this is where the sports club can make an effort to facilitate the access for low-SES children by addressing these barriers specifically.
Strategies could include subsidized fees, phased-in fees after free trial period, adding a low-fee category, or equipment/uniform loan schemes. Regarding transport, possible strategies to increase participation of disadvantaged kids could include the provision of car transport by volunteers, the use of community busses, or locating activities in close proximity to public transportation.