For many of us, it was time to finally meet in person, albeit in two groups. However, for those in the UK, Covid restrictions did not allow travel to Amsterdam, and so we met in two groups; one in Amsterdam, and the other in Leeds – brought together using hybrid meeting technology. So, we kept contact between the two groups using video call software throughout.
The first day started with Adam’s and Sportsinq’s (Bartel Berkhout and Thomas Tichelman) research on sport leadership and what youth leadership might look like.
Adam put together evidence related to how leadership has been conceptualised in the past, both in sport in general, and also for young people.He found out that many studies describe leadership as an individual trait, and regard it as something we can learn, or something that happens in one’s mind. Such ideas suggest leadership can be taught, although this often takes conscious effort. This is because participation in sport alone is not enough to develop leadership, even though sport is a good context to learn. He also mentioned the difference between transformational leadership and transactional leadership, where transformational leadership is more about empowering other people without vision of our own goals and objectives. Transactional leadership, however, is more about offering rewards for achieving team goals, rather than empowering all team members to use their strengths and take responsibility. Finally, Adam stated that leadership should be considered more than just a skill, and is a relational concept that happens between people, rather than just being found in the leader’s head or actions.
Bartel and Thomas introduced us to several examples of already established leadership programs/social empowerment programmes. They outline how there are many institutions that use movement (physical activity, sport and exercise) to enact change – you can leverage sports for other purposes. Besides this, they also showed several examples of where ‘teamwork makes the dream work’ (such as Red Bull’s record fastest pit stop), but also the dark side of bad teamwork, where it can even cost lives.
The main take away from these two studies is that leadership can be an individual and a group skill, which can be taught across multiple scales, and starts at a young age. port is a key field to develop this skill, since according to much psychological research, everyone has potential to become a leader there – including young people. However, we must be aware that the opportunities to use this skill can vary according to socio-cultural and historical factors.
This brings us to first blueprint of curriculum based on three pillars:
- Acquire skills and knowledge
- Personal growth and interaction
- Own a topic and build a project
Finally, the meeting also focused upon Chloe’s data collection, in which she used two surveys sent to national hockey federations and youth leaders. As Frigg pointed out, this work helped us to realize what we expect from the programme and learning the leadership role. Also, it gave many insights on how others got involved in volunteering and thus what to aim for with new volunteers.
Next, the youth leaders continued their work with Marjolein Torenbeek, where they had to prepare feedback on their work so far in groups together with focusing upon targets and what they wanted to improve in the upcoming months.
After a small break we got to the last section of the day, where Tom explained how all our work was part of a bigger picture. He introduced some of EHF programs, that are built around the AIYL project that will use the actions and programmes we are building here.
Day two began interactively with group work. At first, we tried to describe “Who is the leader?”, then we created a leader circle model, where you point out persons around you and how they affect you (in positive or negative ways, etc.). After this, we looked at sports culture benchmarking where each national group answered two questions:
- “What was the start of sports in your country, who were the pioneers and how did they start because of what?”
- “Tell us the story of hockey in your country. Where did it come from? Where did it start? Who started it? How is the competition organized?”
Besides these questions we also looked at the philosophy behind sport, using the perspectives on the body of René Descartes and Immanuel Kant. Thomas took us through the philosophy of sport and the disagreements about if sport is important for education and the body.
We also compared the philosophy of sports in the UK and the rest of Europe, with reference to our own countries. Most of us were a little bit surprised since we thought that the UK is more sport and club oriented than the rest, and whilst this might have been true in the past, the group in the UK outlined how that is not true any more. One example by the group in Leeds was that , at primary school in the UK, children have only about 20 minutes of efficient physical education class per week, whereas many other countries in Europe have almost an hour a week.
Last but not least, we talked about re:Work – the research completed by Google when studying effective team leadership,and discussed the most important contextual issues needed for effective leadership.
At the end we had a short summary of the last two days, some administrative briefing and some assignments.
To sum it up, it was two energizing days full of new information and motivation.