Sports coach as transformative leader: arresting school disengagement through community sport based initiatives

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Reducing social exclusion through interventions designed to sustain school engagement is a key aim of the education and social policy of any government. This paper is a response to the call for there to be more focused empirical sports coaching research through examining the transformative potential of community based sports coaches to support schools in arresting school disengagement. By embracing an understanding that challenges the definitional core of sports coaching as simply improving the sporting performance of an individual or team, and, drawing theoretically on the work of Carlisle et al. (2006) and Shields (2010), the role of ‘coach as transformative leader’ is articulated. Analysis of data collected by means of semi-structured interviews with a group of community based sports coaches (n=8), revealed three factors salient to our understanding of re-engaging young people with formal education through sport. These were the impact of the community sport programme, the relationship between schools and community sports groups and, the implementation of transformative leadership qualities by sport coaching practitioners. Importantly, this paper explicates the pivotal function that coaching practice which embraces transformative leadership principles can have on re-orienting young people from disadvantaged backgrounds towards more optimistic futures and educational objectives.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1 - 19
Number of pages19
JournalSport, Education and Society
Early online date15 Jul 2014
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • school disengagement
  • transformative leadership
  • community
  • sport
  • coaching


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