Funded by: Federal Institute of Sports Science (BISp)
Duration: January 2017 to June 2018
Young elite athletes are faced with the challenge of satisfying the requirements of elite sport while, at the same time, meeting the demands of a school education. In Germany, in order to deal with this kind of dual career, elite sports schools were established in the 1990s, although for the most part the pupils were from Olympic sports; young athletes from Paralympic sports were significantly underrepresented.
Aims and methodology
The aim of the research project is to gain knowledge about a topic that has been so far neglected by sports studies, viz. the demands and coping processes of young Paralympic athletes and their need to reconcile school education and elite sport. Comparing and contrasting the views of young talented athletes who attend elite sport schools with those of promising young athletes attending regular schools is expected to deliver productive information which will first of all provide answers to the questions of: 1. the extent to which schoolchildren with disabilities who have already attended elite sport schools have profited from this environment; and 2. whether, among those who attend regular schools, there is a need to transfer to elite sport schools. In the second part of the research project the knowledge gained from the subjective accounts of the athletes will firstly be compared with the observations of parents and coaches; and, secondly, the head teachers of elite schools will be asked about their attitudes towards and experience with the integration of schoolchildren from Paralympic sports.
Applying the knowledge gained
On the basis of the knowledge gained, possible barriers hindering the access of young athletes from Paralympic sports to elite sport schools can be identified and corresponding measures of support be drawn up with the aim of increasing the number of schoolchildren with disabilities at elite sport schools. This aim conforms to the demand laid down in Article 30 of the UN’s Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities that persons with disabilities be given full, effective and equal access to participation at all levels of sport. The findings of this study will provide decision makers, along with everyone involved in sports policy, with specific expertise on management and steering when dealing with the issue of the demands and coping processes of young elite athletes with disabilities. For this is of great relevance for a purposeful steering of successful inclusion in the area of elite sport schools.