Insights and Recommendations from Our Coaching Journey

In 2022, we embarked on a journey to better understand and enhance the inclusivity of our coaching community. Through interviews and surveys involving 37 Provincial Sport Organizations, 18 Community Sport Organizations, and 113 coaches from Nova Scotia, we gathered valuable insights. With the support of our Coaching team at CSI-Atlantic, led by Andrew Paris, our Coaching Lead for Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and Mentorship, we've synthesized these findings into a set of twenty-four recommendations spread across nine distinct categories.

These recommendations are not intended to be seen as an exhaustive to-do list, but rather as a friendly guide. They offer a roadmap for our larger sport community, helping us all progress toward more inclusive and welcoming spaces for everyone. Your organization’s engagement with these recommendations will make a significant impact as we collectively strive for greater inclusivity and safety in the world of sports.

1. Education & Staying Informed
  • All coaches and staff of Provincial Sport Organizations should attend a minimum of two (2) diversity and inclusion education sessions per calendar year.
  • Using books, social media, newsletter and other available resources, All coaches and staff of Provincial and Community Sport Organizations stay up-to-date with current research, best practices, and policies related to diversity and inclusion in sports.
  • Provincial Sport Organizations should encourage mandatory diversity and inclusion training to all Provincial team coaching staff and athletes.
  • All coaches should incorporate cultural awareness and sensitivity into initial meetings with parents and at appropriate times throughout the season.
2. Psychological Safety, Safe Spaces & Inclusive Policies
  • When creating team goals and expectations, all coaches should incorporate psychological safety into the discussion, where athletes feel comfortable expressing themselves without fear of judgment or discrimination.
  • All Provincial Sport Organizations should develop, update and implement clear and inclusive policies that prohibit discrimination and harassment based on factors such as race, gender, sexual orientation, and disability.
    • At a minimum, all Provincial Sport Organizations should implement the following policies and ensure athletes and coaches are aware of these policies
      • Anti-bullying & harassment Policy
      • Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Policy
      • Parent Behaviour Policy
  • All Provincial and Community Sport Organizations should establish clear channels for reporting incidents of discrimination or harassment and ensure that these reports are taken seriously and addressed promptly.
3. Promote Diversity/Diverse Role Models
  • Provincial Sport Organizations should make every attempt to actively recruit coaches and staff from diverse backgrounds, including different genders, races, ethnicities, and abilities.
    • Conduct regular audits of coaching and program practices to assess diversity and inclusion.
      • Use the audit results to make informed decisions on improving inclusivity within the organization.
  • Provincial and Community Sport Organizations should intentionally showcase and celebrate the accomplishments of athletes and coaches from diverse backgrounds as role models for others.
  • Provincial and Community Sport Organizations should encourage coaches and staff to participate in mentorship programs with coaches from underrepresented groups.
Inclusive coaching event
4. Address Bias
  • Provide bias training for coaches to recognize and address unconscious biases.
  • Coaches should review coaching practices and decisions a minimum of twice per season to identify and mitigate potential biases.
  • Coaching staff should have a minimum of one discussion per season to encourage open dialogue among coaching staff about bias and its impact.
5. Celebrating Differences
  • All Provincial and Community Sport organizations and coaches should host events and/or create initiatives that celebrate cultural, racial, and gender diversity within the sport.
  • Related to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Call to Action Number 87, all Provincial Sport Organizations should research and celebrate the history that indigenous athletes and their communities have played within their sport.
  • All Provincial and Community Sport organizations and coaches should recognize and honor athletes with diverse backgrounds for their achievements on and off the field.
6. Audit Practices and Programs
  • All Community Sport Organizations should evaluate recruitment and retention efforts for athletes from underrepresented groups.
7. Identify Systemic Barriers to Participation
  • Collaborate with athletes, coaches, and community organizations to identify and address systemic barriers to participation.
  • Related to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Call to Action Number 88, all Provincial Sport Organizations should initiate ongoing conversations with Indigenous sport leaders to better support Indigenous coaches before, during and after culturally significant multisport events (i.e. North American Indigenous Games & Nova Scotia Mi’kmaw Summer Games, New Brunswick Indigenous Summer Games, etc.).
  • Advocate for changes in policies, facilities, and resources that may disproportionately affect underrepresented groups.
  • Monitor progress and adjust strategies to ensure ongoing inclusivity.
8. Regularly Seek Feedback
  • Provincial Sport Organizations should establish a feedback mechanism that allows
    athletes and coaches to provide input on inclusivity efforts.
    o Act on feedback received to continuously improve inclusivity practices.
9. Community Engagement
  • Provincial and Community Sport Organizations should attempt to create meaningful partnerships with local community organizations and schools to promote sports participation among marginalized groups.
  • Provincial Sport Organizations should create scholarship programs or financial support to provincial athletes and coaches who may face economic barriers to participation.
Engagement brochure