Exploring the journeys of Aboriginal Australian sport coaches

Year: 2018

Author: Apoifis, Nicholas, Bennie, Andrew, Marlin, Demelza, Caron, Jeffrey

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Sport researchers have begun to appreciate the perspectives and experiences of Indigenous athletes in various global communities, yet little is known about global Indigenous sport coaching experiences. This represents a significant gap in the literature, especially when considering that sport coaches can have a positive social, psychological, and physical impact on their athletes and broader community. Framed by Bronfrenbrenner’s ecological systems theory, we explored the insights of 28 Aboriginal Australian sport coaches (no Torres Strait Islander coaches were available to share their stories) from a variety of team and individual sports as they described an array of factors that facilitated and impeded their sport coaching journeys. Data analysis involved a multi-step deductive-inductive approach. The first step was a theoretically driven, deductive coding process where meaning units were organised into four main themes of an ecological model. Following this, we employed an inductive approach to explore further patterns in the coded data within and across each layer of the ecological model to deepen our understanding of the coaches’ experiences. The results represent the first empirical account of Aboriginal sport coaches’ experiences in their coaching roles. Additionally, and importantly, the qualitative approach used in this study gives agency and voice to Aboriginal sport coaches, who have been long-neglected in academic research. These findings also provide insights for coaches, athletes, researchers, policy-makers, and sporting organisations that are interested in enhancing opportunities and developing pathways for Aboriginal people in sport coaching roles.