In the past, it has been mentioned that the popularity and associated benefits of sport participation do not seem to be sufficient for retaining the participation of youngsters. Evidence suggests that participation peaks at 11 to 13 years before declining through adolescence1,2. This leads to the questions “How do we keep youngsters involved in sport” and “How can we reverse the trend of youth sports dropout”? Thanks to the collaboration of eight European organisations, the Keep Youngsters Involved (KYI) project, co-funded by the Erasmus+ Sport programme have been seeking solutions to these two questions over the past two years.
The project concluded with the final KYI conference that took place at Sport Club Only Friends in the city of Amsterdam on the 14th and 15th of March 2019. The conference included talks from the project team, sport coaches and youngsters who are all passionate about preventing dropout from sport. With participants from 13 different European countries in attendance, the final conference provided the ideal platform to display the 14 factors identified, KYI framework, good practice statements and toolkit containing actions for sport coaches and clubs for preventing youth sports dropout. It was great to have a strong representation from Ireland, with Prof. Catherine Woods (University of Limerick; project team member), Dr. Joey Murphy (University of Limerick; project team member), Dr. Philip Kearney (University of Limerick), Dr. Una May (Sport Ireland), and Mr. Declan O’Leary (Spot Ireland Coaching) in attendance.
A key output from the project is the toolkit, including card games, that were developed from the 14 factors associated with preventing youth sport dropout. The card games in the KYI toolkit can be used to initiate the conversation of why youngsters dropout of sport and what actions may be effective to help reverse the current trend. The card game proved to be a powerful tool at the final conference as it provided a gateway for sport coaches, youngsters and researchers from around Europe to discuss aspects such as the role of coaches, the support of parents, the expectations of sport clubs and the different approaches for keeping boys and girls involved in sport.
In the near future, a report will be published on the project website, as well as videos that were made before and during the final conference. The KYI infographic, the 14 factors and the toolkit can also be downloaded from the website. The KYI toolkit is only available in English at the moment, but the intention is to make it available in a number of languages before the project is officially closed in September 2019.
The website www.keepyoungstersinvolved.eu.also clearly shows how much attention has been generated on social media with #keepyoungstersinvolved and how many national meetings are organised already in the different countries.
Finally, members of the KYI project team will be running a workshop using the toolkit at the upcoming iCoachKids conference on the 14th and 15th of June in the University of Limerick. To find out more information and register please click the following link: https://www.icoachkids.eu/3rd-icoachkids-international-conference-child-centred-coaching.html.
- Fraser-Thomas, J., Cote, J., & Deakin, J. (2008). Examining adolescent sport dropout and prolonged engagement from a developmental perspective. Journal of Applied Sport Psychology, 20(3), 318–333. http://doi.org/10.1080/10413200802163549
- Lunn, P., Kelly, E., & Fitzpatrick, N. (2013). Keeping them in the game: taking up and dropping out of sport and exercise in Ireland. The Irish Sports Council (Vol. 33). http://doi.org/978 0 7070 0 3580
Dr. Joseph (Joey) Murphy is the Research Manager for the Irish Physical Activity Research Collaboration (I-PARC). This research brings together researchers, practitioners and policy makers in Ireland to identify effective interventions and implementation methods for increasing population levels of physical activity. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org twitter: @JoeyJMurphy Researchgate