The link between Education and Sports.

This week’s blog comes from Maximilian Dobrescu who took part in our recent Sport and Global Education training course. Maximilian is a character educator who works with children through sports, designing impactful learning experiences for different target groups whether in-class or through innovative technology.

Recently I read a Facebook post written by a mother. It went like this “Radu wants to play football. I am reserved for obvious reasons relating to the coaches attitudes and habits regarding children. Could you recommend a coach who knows how to communicate with children, is polite, who promotes team-work and has the power to appreciate every child’s effort without labels, shouts or insults. I’ve heard all kinds of stories which have horrified me.”

There are more and more parents who want a better sport-related-experience for their kids.


A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to reflect on what being a coach means while attending an intense training course in Butlersbridge, Cavan – an outstanding place built for scouts at the border of Ireland and Northern Ireland.

I left with one powerful idea from this week spent with transformative coaches and leaders from around the world who make a difference in their communities in Italy, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Ireland and Romania.


My question was: “How can I improve the impact I have as a sports coach?”

I discovered that there are three layers at which you can look at the impact you have as a coach:

1. Education For Sports (EFS)

Here you are an instructor and your job is to focus on teaching the game and the skills needed, in order to perform that sport, whether it is football, rugby or ballet. What is a goal kick? How do you pass a ball with the inside of the foot? Or how do you perform a correct demi-plié.

At this stage you have a technical – skilled based approach. The aim here is to help kids compete as well as possible and master the sport.

2. Education By Sports (EBS)

Learning a sport might look easy but practicing it consistently for a few years requires you to also learn transversal skills that will help beyond the field. You will be forced to learn – how to live a disciplined, well organized life, how to connect and take care of your body or how to nurture human relationships.

As a coach your role is to facilitate these lessons, to outline them, talk about them and go beyond them. Here you are much more than a sport instructor. You are an educator. You have to be aware of all “teachable moments” sport has to offer at any given time and make the most out of them so that kids can grow to be better people not just better athletes.

3. Education Through Sports (ETS)

For ETS, sport is just a vehicle. It’s a way of delivering the message or the lessons. The main objective has nothing to do with sport, it’s all about learning and changing behaviours related to life situations, or global challenges. This is how the training course in Ireland worked, we focused on discrimination, global warming and inequality.

As a coach you design and facilitate meaningful learning experiences. You may have no expert level sports-related skills but you have the ability to create experiences filled with teachable moments.


Back to the Facebook post, what I’ve noticed is that Radu’s mother was looking after an EBS level coach. She was not complaining about the lack of competence regarding the ability to instruct and initiate a kid into football. But this was obviously not enough for her.

As a coach the biggest challenge is to shift from EFS to EBS. From an instructor to an educator. Doing so you’ll have a tremendous impact on the child’s long-term-development and I believe this is the little difference that makes the big difference so I will address this in my next article.

A masterful coach is able to play all these roles. They know how to mix these three approaches and this is something that I am actively working on.

Do you know some examples of EBS or ETS ? If so, let’s discuss them in the comment section below.

P.s. Thank you Development Perspectives for this learning experience.

group shot from SAGE

This blog originally featured at



2. Move And Learn: Manual for Non-Formal Education Through Sport and physical

– skilled based approach. The aim here is to help kids compete as good as possible and master the sport.

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