Queer education for coaches was among the subjects discussed at an annual meeting on coach education between ÍSÍ, the National Olympic and Sports Association of Iceland, and its Nordic counterparts. ÍSÍ’s office manager in Akureyri says that ÍSÍ is looking into the possibility of providing coaches with additional educational material on queer matters from the other Nordic sports associations.
“I honestly believe, after 17 years of experience in this field, that there are few organizations better qualified to react to prejudice then the sports association. Because all coaches are trained to think of everyone equally, whether they are queer, black or if their names are Messi or Ronaldo,” says Viðar Sigurjónsson, ÍSÍ’s office manager in Akureyri.
He adds that ÍSÍ has reacted to increased awareness about queer prejudice following a discussion in the media, for example with a recorded lecture that was held in collaboration with the national queer organisation Samtökin ’78. And that ÍSÍ will continue to provide coaches with additional educational material if available.
This is why he brought the subject up during an annual meeting on latest developments in coaches’ training with representatives from the Nordic national sports organizations. Viðar hosted the meeting this time in Akureyri 1st and 2nd June and it was attended by another Icelandic representative, two Norwegians, a Swede, a Dane and a Finn. He raised the question: “How queer education can be implemented in the training to better prepare coaches to prevent problems rather than dealing with problems when they arise?”
“My colleagues will be sending me their material about what they are teaching their coaches on the subject as soon as they can. I will then go over it to see if and how I can adopt it for Icelandic conditions,” says Viðar. He hopes he can offer updated material in an online course for coaches that starts June 20.
“… if athletes are experiencing that their coaches don’t deal appropriately with problems that might arise, then we must do something. That means our system must be improved. And we will improve it.”
How did your colleagues react to your questions and thoughts on queer education for coaches? “First and foremost they were surprised that this was even an issue for the sports association in Iceland. Because educated trainers are supposed to have the knowledge and experience to be able to react correctly to every situation on the job. What happens when the coaches are not around is harder to handle, but where they are in charge and working for the sports club they should have the knowledge to treat everyone equally.”
Viðar adds that ÍSÍ’s Nordic counterparts have already debated on how to train coaches sufficiently on queer issues, and that they all agreed that the training should not focus on one specific group more than the other and that everyone should be treated equally at all times. “However I declare myself prepared to focus on certain groups in the training if that proves to be a more appropriate approach and provides coaches better knowledge of how they can improve.”
What approach do you think is important? “I think it’s important to talk to those that have experience, good or bad, and see how we can improve our education. Where are the problems? Is it the coach; are there problems outside of practice or in the dressing room? Answers to these questions are hugely important and we would like to know about all problems so we can address them properly,” he says.
“If it’s true that some coaches are failing, if athletes are experiencing that their coaches don’t deal appropriately with problems that might arise, then we must do something. That means our system must be improved. And we will improve it.”