An investigation of coach education for para sport in Canada


The increased attention given to para sport from the grassroots to high-performance levels should be met with the expansion of coach development, recruitment, and retainment of coaches. This study sought to understand the landscape of para sport coach education in Canadian sport by exploring the barriers, facilitators, and constraints that coaches and coach developers for para sport experience. We conducted 11 semi-structured interviews and three focus groups with coach managers and coaches across 17 sports in the Canadian para sport system. Overall, the results showed that coaches and sport managers experience a number of challenges in regard to recruiting, developing, and retaining coaches for para sport. Our main themes were (a) limited para and disability-specific educational resources, (b) fragmented coach pathways, and (c) low organizational capacity. Results also highlight some facilitators to enhance coach development in para sport, such as (a) building a sense of community, (b) meaningful personal connections, and (c) support from national sport organizations. In sum, we recommended that a collaborative approach is needed where sport managers work with para athletes to co-create and infuse contemporary understandings of disability into coach education. In addition, it is critical that sports represent all para athletes that can participate in their sport, not just some. Keywords: para sport, coach education, management, disability, infusion