Queer education was included in a coaches’ course at The Icelandic Football Association (Knattspyrnusamband Íslands, KSÍ) last weekend, for the very first time. A supervisor says that from now on it will be part of KSÍ’s training.
“There were 35 participants in the course and I’ve only heard positive things from them about the input,” says Dagur Sveinn Dagbjartsson, who is the supervisor of Coaches’ Training within KSÍ and a so-called “grass roots manager”, overseeing football participation of children, the disabled and other minority groups within the association.
The course was an annual Level 4 course for football coaches of teenagers and adults and lasted Friday through Sunday. María Helga Guðmundsdóttir, chairman of Samtökin ’78, provided the queer education input and exposed participants to possible scenarios where someone on their team might be queer, whether it be gay, bi, trans etc.
“The course is very compact and because of the short time we have, we often use “flipped classroom” technique where participants watch lectures online before attending the course, so we’ll have more time for discussions and assignments,” Dagur explains.
“KSÍ arranged a lecture by María Helga last year at ÍSÍ (The National Olympic and Sports Association of Iceland). We recorded it and then sent these 35 participants an online link to it, so they could prepare for the course. María then was able to use her time slot last weekend to answer questions, divide the participants into groups and assign them various scenarios to deal with, that coaches might come across in their teams, in the locker rooms or out on the pitch.”
“These courses are held annually and I expect queer education to be part of the course material from now on.”
Dagur says that right after the course finished he asked a few of the participants what they thought of the new queer input and they all appreciated it. “We also sent out an evaluation form and so far all the responses have been very positive.”
GayIceland’s coverage about queer prejudice in Icelandic sports last year sparked a heated discussion in the sports world and Icelandic society about queer phobia in organized sports. Dagur says that the discussion may have given KSÍ the nudge it needed.
“Queer education has been in the spotlight with UEFA (Union of Europan Football Association) for the past two years or so. They’ve been encouraging their member states to include some form of queer education or promote queer awareness within their organizations but I think the coverage here in Iceland last year, the awakening it caused at ÍSÍ, made us at KSÍ take action now.”
He states that this input will from now on be part of the KSÍ football coaches’ training. “These courses are held annually and I expect queer education to be part of the course material from now on.
I can see us having someone from Samtökin ’78 become a regular speaker at these Level 4 courses in the future.
I personally think it’s brilliant to include this; sports coaches often become the confidants of kids and teenagers, they see them almost every day and kids sometimes tell them something before they’re ready to tell their parents, so all coaches need to be prepared and know how to react if faced with circumstances where a kid opens up about being queer or something like that.”