Identifying Coaches and Facilitators
A good program relies heavily on the strength of its coaching staff. These are the people who motivate the participants, interact with them on a weekly basis and serve as role models and mentors. There are several ways to approach the roles of boxing coach and facilitator. One thing to keep in mind when recruiting coaches or facilitators is to clearly explain the mission and vision of the organization so that anyone joining the staff is doing so for the right reasons. You want people who truly believe in the empowerment of women through sport and who can be role models in this sense.
- Philosophy of recruiting coaches: Two crucial objectives for Boxgirls programs are to provide role models and mentors and create an atmosphere of empowerment and self-confidence for young girls involved in the program. Coaches and facilitators must understand and fully commit to the mission above, and must be able connect to young girls and have the natural ability to lead and be role models. Not all female boxers or female boxing coaches have this ability or even want to have it. Although having boxing coaches or actual boxers is a plus, it is more important to find women who have these qualities, abilities and philosophies. If they are not boxers, Boxgirls International can train them to administer beginner boxing sessions as long as they are athletic and willing to learn the basics of boxing and how to teach it. Boxgirls International feels very strongly about coaches first being role models and good coaches, and then about being boxers or boxing coaches.
- Recruit experienced female boxing coaches: Since Boxgirls is a women’s empowerment program that uses boxing, ideally, you would want to look for experienced boxing coaches who are women. Contact local boxing gyms and place announcements or flyers up on boards at community centres. Contact the local or national boxing association if it exists. Unfortunately, this is often a difficult profile to find in any community and you might need to turn to several alternatives.
- Recruit female boxers as coaches: The next best candidate would be a female boxer, at least 20 years old, who could be trained in the Boxgirls curriculum and mission as well as in specific coaching techniques. Not all people are natural coaches and so it is important that the boxer has the right training to be able to teach and mentor the participants. Ask around the community, go to local boxing gyms or contact any national or regional boxing associations if they exist. Again, not all boxers will necessarily want to be involved in a project like this so make sure the expectations and reasons for agreeing to be a coach are clear.
- Recruit female coaches: A second alternative is to recruit experienced non-boxing coaches if you cannot find boxing coaches or boxers interested in taking on the role as coach during boxing sessions. Boxgirls International will train any coaches and women interested in becoming boxing instructors on how to teach the basic techniques of the sport. Several components of Boxgirls also involve coaches or facilitators to administer non-boxing activities. Your organization should therefore identify female leaders and coaches that may not necessarily be interested in being boxing coaches but are interested in delivering other sports development sessions or life skills session within the context of Boxgirls.
- Male coaches at Boxgirls: Finding an all female coaching staff might be difficult in some communities. Therefore, it is important to discuss the idea of including male coaches in a women’s empowerment program and the impact that has on the objectives. In general, male coaches and facilitators should be avoided in any activities that deal with young girls such as the school programs, boxing club sessions and life skills discussions. Since Boxgirls is based on the idea that women can create social change in their own communities, it is necessary to put women in leadership roles and create role models and mentors for the young girls who are participants in the program. Although male coaches can have positive influences on women, it is best to have male coaches tangentially involved in these training sessions. Sometimes, male coaches are needed in the beginning during transition periods in which female coaches and facilitators are being trained. Be careful so that the male coaches/facilitators or those who are in leadership roles, do not monopolize the training and teaching sessions, but rather, realize their role in the organization and know when it is a good time to step back or step down and make way for trained women.
On the other hand, male coaches can be used in coach training programs in which Boxgirls affiliates train participants who have “graduated” from Boxgirls and want to become Boxgirls coaches themselves.
Background checks: When recruiting male and female coaches and facilitators, it is important that your organization has some sort of process for background checks. Different communities and organizations have different capacities to carry this out but doing background checks in some way or form must be required at your organization. Make sure that coaches and facilitators hired do not have records of abuse or criminal activity and are respected in the community. This is very important for child protection and creating a safe atmosphere for all participants, whether male or female.
- Recruiting from within your own program: One strategy is to eventually recruit coaches and facilitators from within your program. Once participants reach a certain age, such as 18, create a process or program that trains those interested and selected to become Boxgirls coaches themselves. This is not only a great leadership incentive for young women joining the Boxgirls program, but it also is a great opportunity to turn their boxing skills into an income generating activity, by being paid a stipend to coach.
Looking internally has many advantages. First, this creates a great motivational incentive for young girls joining the program to develop their leadership skills with the tangible result of becoming a coach and mentor. This formalizes and strengthens the leadership development component of the curriculum, one of the strengths of the Boxgirls program, and creates a sustainable coaching development component giving your organization a constant pool of potential coaches. Secondly, recruiting internally creates an income generating opportunity for participants and is a great compliment to the economic empowerment component of the Boxgirls curriculum. By becoming a coach, the girls have the possibility to receive a stipend and take more advanced economic empowerment sessions, start savings clubs with the other coaches and further develop their employability skills.
Process: from participant to Boxgirls coach<
- Self or group nomination
- Boxing training from national boxing organization (to be certified nationally)
- Learn Boxgirls curriculum
- Take curriculum test and go through coaching workshop
- Period of apprenticeship (Assistant Coach)
- Become a coach
Coaching Certificates and Continuous training
Boxgirls International, as part of the agreement with the affiliate, will offer boxing and coaching training in which participants have the possibility of acquiring certificates recognized by international bodies, universities and other organizations. This is not only great motivation for young women but acts as a form of economic empowerment, giving women the skills and certification to for employment within Boxgirls programs as well as within the community.
Local Boxgirls programs can also create partnerships with local or national boxing organizations and engage in continuous training opportunities for their coaches. By partnering with these boxing associations or national sports ministries or governmental institutions, you can try to negotiate free or reduced cost training workshops and professional certificate programs.
Challenge: Retaining female coaches
It is often a challenge to not only recruit female boxers or boxing coaches but also retain them in your program. Several reasons could include cultural norms surrounding women’s roles after marriage or childbirth, economic reasons which require women to work to support their families and so on. If possible, depending on the capacity of your organization and the program, offering a stipend or coaching salary can help keep coaches on staff. However, you must be careful so that coaches or boxers do not come only for this stipend but are truly passionate about the Boxgirls program and women’s empowerment. One way to avoid this is by recruiting internally. Girls who have gone through the program already understand the objectives, mission and vision and the importance of being a good mentor. Another idea is to create an internship program in which newly recruited coaches work side by side with existing coaches for a period of time without a stipend or salary. This might discourage those who are in it for the wrong reasons. You must also consider, when working with young women in the community, that in many cultures there is pressure for women to marry, to have children and to take care of the house. This could cause women coaches who have reached a certain age to feel pressured to drop out from Boxgirls. Again, by bringing the community on board for your program as well as offering ways that these women can become empowered economically by coaching or through other Boxgirls related activities, they will feel less pressure from their family and the community to stop coaching.