Sport for Life expert André Lachance has been mobilizing Canadian long-term development ideals for many years now, and that work has taken him to increasingly far-flung locales. As he mobilizes long-term development, he’s been repeatedly surprised by the enthusiasm on display in Scandinavian countries. In many ways they’re implementing his teachings faster than their Canadian counterparts.
“It started when I led a workshop in Stockholm during the spring of 2018, organized by the Swedish Sport Confederation. I was approached by Ragnhildur Skúladóttir to address the Icelandic federations as well, and I jumped at the chance,” said Lachance.
“Over two days I went through the different elements of competition structure, we talked about meaningful competition, and how you can make changes to the system that better serve athlete development. I’ve always believed that coaches will coach to their system, and if the system is bad then the coaches make bad decisions. That was the angle I was sharing with them.”
Twenty people from ten different organizations participated under the umbrella of the National Olympic and Sport Association. Lachance was thrilled to have such enthusiastic buy-in.
“I couldn’t believe how totally open-minded they were. What makes them successful, especially in soccer, is their culture. They’re good at identifying what makes them successful as an organization, but they’re also excellent at figuring out when something needs to be fixed. And as soon as it was over, they hit the road as soon as possible.”
Skúladóttir can’t wait to see the outcomes that arise from the session.
“It is hard to tell right now about the impact the workshop had on the participants or their organizations, but we hope that some changes will be made in the competition format especially for young athletes. Time will tell, and this workshop will have a follow up from our association,” she said.
Lachance sometimes feels a little conflicted, seeing Canadian inventions picked up so enthusiastically while they remain ignored and unimplemented back home.
“It’s fun and sad at the same time because I wish we could do the same thing here. We have tons of competent people and awesome resources, but most of the time they’re not being used at the level they’re intended to be used, while others are running with this material and implementing it right away.”
But when it comes to mobilizing these ideals, a magnanimous attitude goes a long way.
“As far as I’m concerned, cooperation is the new competition.”