iCoachKids: Innovative Education & Training for a Specialist Children & Youth Coaching Workforce.

iCoachKids - From European Project to Global Movement

The 2nd iCoachKids International Conference marked a watershed moment in the transformation of this Erasmus+ co-funded initiative from a collaborative partnership into a global movement.


Peter Mackreth, Dean of the Carnegie School of Sport at LBU, John Bales, ICCE President, Dr Sergio Lara-Bercial, iCK Director and Dr Andy Abraham, Head of Subject for the Sport Coaching Degree at LBU welcome coaches to the iCK Conference.

Over 200 youth sport coaches from 17 different countries descended upon the beautiful Headingly Campus of Leeds Beckett University last week for the 2nd iCoachKids International Conference. The event marked the completion of the second year of this 36-month project co-funded by the Erasmus+ programme of the European Commission. It ran in conjunction with the Pat Duffy Excellence in Coaching Conference remembering the outstanding contribution Pat, who sadly passed away our years ago, made to coaching globally.

Under the overall theme of ‘Developing Effective Environments for Children in Sport’, an international line-up of renown youth sport experts delivered over 20 different keynotes, workshops and practical demonstrations across the two-day event. The attending coaches had the opportunity to listen to and debate some of the ‘hottest’ issues in youth sport like talent identification and development, effective season and session planning, holistic coaching, the pedagogical and motivational sport climate, and the role of parents in sport.

Professor Nicolette Schipper Van Veldhoven from the Netherlands Olympic Committe and Sport Confederation and Windesheim University opens the conference with her keynote on The Pedagogical Climate in Youth Sport

The conference also hosted the launch of the iCoachKids YouTube Channel containing over 50 educational videos for youth coaches, and the premiere of the beta version of the first iCoachKids Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) . MOOC #1 ‘Developing Effective Environments for Children in Sport’ is a FREE e-learning package aimed at supporting coaches understand their role in the context of children and youth sport. Through a combination of over 40 educational videos and 20 plus activities, coaches completing the course will be able to purposefully create positive environments where children can thrive both as people and as athletes.

This is what some of the conference delegates had to say about the conference:

However, perhaps the most significant element of the conference was the confirmation that iCoachKids, its philosophy and its main goal of supporting the development of a specialist youth sport coaching workforce are much more than a three-year project, but a global movement. The presence of coaches from 17 countries including the USA, Australia and South Africa proves that the iCK phenomenon has transcended the boundaries of the EU.

It also demonstrates a world-wide appetite for the creation of a development community around this specific coaching population. As an example of this international perspective, the South African Sport Confederation and Olympic Committee has tabled a proposal whereby the iCoachKids programme would become a central element of the coach education offer for youth coaches in South Africa and iCK has signed a cooperation agreement with Coaching Portugal, the Portuguese Confederation of Coaches Associations.

iCK Project Director Dr Sergio Lara-Bercial was ecstatic about the outcome of the conference: “It’s a dream come true. 200 plus coaches from multiple countries and sports is a massive step forward. Thanks to all the iCK Partners, Leeds Beckett staff, Human Kinetics, the amazing speakers and most importantly the coaches that gave up their time to be here”

The 3rd iCoachKids International Conference will take place in Limerick (Ireland) hosted by project partners Sport Ireland Coaching. Keep an eye on the website and our Twitter feed @iCoachKidsEU for details coming soon.

The presentations from the 2nd iCoachKids International Conference will be available for download shortly. The videos of the practical sessions will also be made available soon on the YouTube channel.

iCoachKids is co-funded by an Erasmus+ grant and led by Leeds Beckett University (LBU) and the International Council for Coaching Excellence (ICCE). It brings together another six world-class organisations with a common desire to support children and youth coaches and a proven track record of doing so. These include Sport Ireland Coaching, the Hungarian Coaches Association, the Netherlands Olympic Committee, the European University of Madrid, Lithuanian Sport University, and the Royal Belgian Football Association