Donegal ATU to host I COACH KIDS conference

Director of Sport Ireland Coaching, Michael McGeehin, and Myles Sweeney, Coordinator with Donegal Sports Partnership.

Donegal ATU and Sligo ATU have been confirmed as two of the four venues for the I COACH KIDS conference series which will be held in the first week of September.

Donegal ATU’s campus in Letterkenny will host the conference on Thursday, September 1st, from 6.30 pm to 9.30 pm, while ATU Sligo will host the conference on Friday, September 2nd, from 6.30 pm to 9.30 pm.

The aim of the initiative is to bring current best practices and specific information to coaches at a local level that will support them when coaching children and teenagers. Coaches who attend will be provided with specific directed learning on the day of the conference, as well as being signposted to self-directed learning opportunities through Sport Ireland and the I COACH KIDS website.

The event is part of the European Week of Sport and will see Sport Ireland Coaching hosting a series of conferences for coaches of children and teenagers in partnership with the LSP Network and the Sport Ireland Participation Unit.

I COACH KIDS is a non-profit global movement and its mission is to help children get the most out of sport. Its online platform gives youth sport coaches the tools to share and learn from another, so they can give children from any background the best coaching, play and sport and environment, and motivation to stay in the sport longer.

The I COACH KIDS Regional Coaching Conferences are aimed at those who coach teenage boys and girls and at coaches who would like to improve and develop to put the needs of children and teenagers first, and coaches who are concerned about the dropout rate in the sports they are involved in.

Looking ahead to the series of conferences, Director of Sport Ireland Coaching, Michael McGeehin, said that Sport Ireland Coaching is looking forward to having in-person events again. While the pandemic did have a significant impact on the volunteer and coaching sectors, things are starting to take a turn for the better.

“Because of the pandemic, there was little or no activity in sport, so there was going to be a drop in volunteerism. In terms of coach education courses, it wasn’t possible to go face-to-face or in person. However, it’s important to note, during this time, that the governing bodies of sport did a great job of moving courses and workshops online and engaging with coaches” he said.

“There has been a drop-off over the last two years in the number of NGB coaching courses being run, but that is picking up again now,” Mr. McGeehin commented.
“Sport is definitely revving up again and things are definitely getting busier for coaches as well. These conferences are aimed at anyone who is coaching children and teenagers. These people are on the ground, who are learning through ‘doing’ which is always good.”

The Director of Sport Ireland Coaching continued: “This conference is an add-on to what coaches may have learned on their NGB coach education course, where we drill in a little bit deeper into how we ensure that all children and youth sport participants have a good introduction to their sport and a positive experience led by suitably trained coaches leading to a lifelong love of sport and physical activity”.

“We will also look at how we can make their activity fun, and at how we can add to the coaches’ toolkit with a number of new activities – not only through the conferences but also what they might do afterward when logging onto the I COACH KIDS website and using that as a resource which is free.”
“While the conferences are primarily aimed at coaches, they are also for parents and teachers with an interest in sport. It will be appealing also to teenagers who might have an interest in coaching,” he added.

Guest speakers at the conferences will be Sergio Lara-Bercial and Nicolette Schipper van Veldhoven. Sergio Lara-Bercial is a Professor of Sports Coaching at Leeds Beckett University (UK) and the Vice-President for Strategy and Development for the International Council for Coaching Excellence. He has published widely on a variety of sport-related topics including youth sport and coach development. Sergio is also the co-founder of I COACH KIDS.

Myles Sweeney, Coordinator with Donegal Sports Partnership that is partnering with Coaching Ireland on the I COACH KIDS conference series, said: “I am delighted that Letterkenny was selected as a venue to deliver what will be a good quality event. Two of the top coaching brains in Europe will be on hand to impart what will be valuable knowledge for coaches, parents, teachers, and volunteers who are working with children and young people.”

He added: “Both Dr. Sergio Lara-Bercial a former basketball coach with Team GB, and Dr. Nicollette Schipper van Veldhoven, have developed extensive knowledge on positive youth development through their extensive studies and research. They have both developed the I COACH KIDS philosophies and methods which have been embraced by many national governing bodies of sport.”

The cost per coach is €10.

To register for the conference in Letterkenny on Thursday, September 1st, follow the link below:

ICOACHKIDS Regional Conference – Donegal

To register for the conference in Sligo on Saturday, September 3rd, follow the link below:

ICOACHKIDS Regional Conference – Sligo