What does it mean to be inclusive? An inclusive coach or volunteer is someone who values everyone in their program. By including everyone in their program, they make sure that everyone gets a fair go.
An inclusive coach knows every young person has different abilities and needs, and will develop at their own pace. They focus on their strengths, and remove barriers that might prevent them joining in.
To be a great inclusive coach, remember these three tips:
One - consider things from the player's perspective and try to understand how they might be feeling. Your attitude will have a big impact on all the players in your group.
Two - have the same expectations for young people with disability. If everyone's expected to pack up equipment at the end of a session, a young person with disability should also help. You can modify the task if needed.
Three - talk to young people and their families to learn more about their interests, strengths, and challenges, and how best to communicate with them and include them. Young people and their families know their abilities best. Ask questions like, "Are there certain situations that are stressful?".
Put simply, a good coach is an inclusive coach. They know that every player has strengths, and they know how to modify an activity if it isn't working for the player.
You're probably already using some of the strategies, you just may not have realised that these are inclusive.
In the video above, Rob Klemm (AFL All Australian Inclusion Coach) shares tips for being an inclusive coach.
Coaches play an important role
Playing footy can have many benefits for young people, not just physically but socially too. Being included can be so important for their overall wellbeing. However, many young people experience barriers to participation. At times, barriers may be related to identity. For some young people, a combination of characteristics that make up their identity (eg. race, gender, disability, age) can mean that they face multiple, overlapping barriers to inclusion. Experiencing multiple barriers can make it even harder for young people to play footy. This is where inclusive coaches play a key role - they provide everyone with equal access and opportunities to be involved, and break down the barriers for young people with disability.
There’s more information on the Coaches page about how to create inclusive footy environments for young people of all abilities.
AllPlay Footy is a joint initiative by Monash University and the AFL. AllPlay Footy was founded at Deakin University in 2015 and has been part of Monash Education since 2021. The AllPlay Footy content and resources presented here have been developed with people with lived experience of disability, consultants from National Sporting Organisations for People with Disability, psychologists and researchers, and are brought to you with funding from a Department of Social Services Information, Linkages and Capacity Building: Social and Community Participation Stream (2020-2024) grant. We aim to use language that is respectful to everyone.
DISABILITY AND INCLUSION
Learn how the ABC approach can help you understand and support young people’s behaviour
Language is important. Here, we describe the language that we use across our disability inclusion resources
Learn about the CHANGE IT approach and how you can use it to support inclusion.
Learn tips for how to support players in areas that might prevent participation at footy.