Purpose. The purpose of this study was to empirically analyze the sports background, personality dimensions, attitudes, and social competencies of adult head coaches and young assistant coaches involved in the German Einfach Fußball (Just Soccer) program, which promotes the participation of pupils with intellectual disabilities in soccer/sports and society. Methods. The study recruited 28 head coaches and 29 assistant coaches who completed a questionnaire battery of standardized instruments (NEO Five-Factor Inventory, Interpersonal Reactivity Index, Social Self-Efficacy) as well as self-developed instruments. Analysis of the data involved descriptive and inferential statistical procedures. A descriptive comparison of the assistant coaches with a normative sample of males aged 16-20 years was performed. Results. The head coaches were found with little soccer/sports experience with persons with disabilities prior to participation in the Just Soccer program. However, the majority were familiar with these persons through personal/vocational contacts. Overall, the head coaches were differentiated by formal coaching levels and playing backgrounds, with very few holding any additional formal qualifications in special education. The assistant coaches presented below average scores in the analyzed five personality dimensions when compared with the normative sample. Their attitudes and social competencies did not change during their 8-month involvement in Just Soccer. Conclusions. The findings highlight the important role of the coaching staff in the success of the Just Soccer program. Coaches involved in such activities should be familiarized with needs of people with disabilities, be stress-resistant, and possess a balanced set of personality traits. In addition, the results suggest that such individuals should be coaches/players from conventional soccer clubs instead of special school physical education teachers.
1. Schliermann R., Participation of cognitive disabled children in the soccer-sport, for example the „Just Soccer“ program - Evaluation of structure parameters and participation satisfaction [in German]. In: Anneken V. (ed.), Inclusion through Sport- Research for people with disabilities [in German]. Strauss, Köln 2013, 65-82.
2. Schliermann R., Anneken V., Just soccer- program to encourage the participation in sport [in German]. Teilhabe, 2012, 51 (4), 176-181.
Financed by the National Centre for Research and Development under grant No. SP/I/1/77065/10 by the strategic scientific research and experimental development program:
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