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“He has been the worst coach, but he’s also the one that said ‘let’s give it a go’”: Understanding inclusive coaching practices and education in mainstream sport in Aotearoa New Zealand

Looking to coach education as a principal mechanism of change in inclusive sport practice, this thesis reports research on the development of inclusive coaching practice related to disability in the context of mainstream sport in New Zealand. Guided by Participatory Action Research and drawing on social constructionism, the study utilises semi-structured interviews with disabled people, community sport coaches, and national coach developers as a triad of key stakeholders to provide insight into the knowledge and support that is required by coaches and coach developers to enhance inclusive experiences for disabled people in mainstream sport. In addressing this aim, I also sought to understand the possibilities within coach education to improve coaching practices to be more inclusive of disabled people. Using a reflexive thematic analysis, the research highlighted that despite the desire of coaches and coach developers to do more in providing opportunities for disabled people, there is a significant lack of support available for both coaches and national coach developers to enact inclusive policy. The analysis illustrates levels of ableism inherent within mainstream sport, coach education and consequently coaching practice, as well as the resourcing and structural barriers that exist within mainstream sport that present significant barriers for achieving the inclusive aims of policy intent. However, despite this, several actions were identified to improve coaching practice at a relational level – between the coach and disabled person – and at a systematic level within the coach education systems of mainstream sport.
Type of thesis
The University of Waikato
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