The process of conducting the research study consisted of research tasks and writing the research reports and study draft. Initially, research team from the Institute for Philosophy and Social Theory (IPST henceforth) – which is an autonomous research unit within the University of Belgrade – held several internal meetings, as well as meetings with the project coordinator Aleksandra Knežević, members of the Project’s expert team and the representatives of the University of Belgrade. The purpose of these meetings was to design the research process and grasp all the tasks required for conducting it effectively. Milestones in terms of defining the standards, finding implementing field agency with regional scope of work, contracting it, regulating contract and payments, dividing the work internally among the members of the research team, were all defined.

In cooperation with Aleksandra Knežević and the expert team, IPST maintained regular communication and had in-person meetings held between January 25 and 27 during the kick-off event, and another meeting held on February 24. Prior to these meetings, the research team sent a research design description to the expert team members, and they jointly discussed the sample, countries involved, process of selecting the authors of national studies, general guidelines and the topics included and the deadlines.

The aim of this research was set to be to conduct an in-depth analysis of how football coaches perceive the educational and pedagogical role of sports and to identify ways to strengthen this role. The output is a written report in English describing the results of the: desk analysis, semi-structured interviews held with coaches, and two focus groups with parents of children who play football.

The purpose of the entire research was to use this data to create a module and Moodle course for coaches as part of the ongoing project. Therefore, the interviews with coaches were the most important element of our research. Young athlete football coaches were interviewed using semi-structured interviews. A total of 20 interviews per country were conducted with both “professional” and “amateur” coaches of younger age categories, ranging from 11 to 15 years old.

The first part of research activities consists of desk analysis. The goal of the desk analysis was to obtain detailed information about the legal framework governing coaching and any existing professional/scientific work on the topic at the national level. The desk analysis was conceived as analytical, informative, and therefore useful for further monitoring of coaching practices identified through the interviews.

The second, central part of the research includes the results of interviews with football coaches. A total of 100 coaches were interviewed, and prior to the interviews, participants were provided with information about the research and an explanation of its anonymity, and they signed their consent. During the interviews, researchers used pre-defined questions to obtain the desired information from the coaches. After the interviews, the data were anonymized, stored in audio format, and a brief report of the interview was completed. The professional and ethical aspects of the research were reviewed and approved by the Ethics Committee of the Institute for Philosophy and Social Theory at the University of Belgrade.

In open discussions, coaches have talked about their perception of the pedagogical and educational role that football coaches currently have in the lives of young people and what it should be. They were encouraged to discuss the weaknesses and negative aspects of the current situation and to think about how it could be improved and how coaching work with children could be enhanced. This is one of the key elements for the success of the whole project because, based on the analysis and report, experts should create a module and Moodle course that outlines the training and is intended for coaches to help them improve and enhance their work and approach.

The third part of the research referred to two focus groups with parents of children who play football. Each focus group included 8 participants, and the focus groups were conducted in each country after the interviews with the coaches. The discussions with parents lasted from 45 to 60 minutes.

Simultaneously, the research team prepared the crucial documents that defined all the relevant questions regarding the research itself: Research Framework, Questionnaire for the Interviews, Guidelines for Desk Research, Guidelines for conducting the Interviews and writing the report, Guidelines for focus groups, Registration Questionnaire and Consent form.

Apart from being used later on by the expert group, the Final research comprising more than 100 pages in total was also presented to football coaches themselves during the Training for Trainers and networking event in Zrenjanin. The results were presented during a 1 hour long session including approximately 40 football coaches and several members of the expert team at this event held in Hotel Vojvodina in Zrenjanin from May 31 to June 3, and found a most positive welcome from both experts and coaches themselves.

Presentation on following link: Life-Champions-1.6.2023-prezentacija-istraživanja-ENG