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The Challenge

Inappropriate involvement or behaviours from parents in youth sports can negatively influence children’s sporting experiences and contribute to them stopping their participation. Unfortunately, reports of bad parental behaviour can be seen online and are plentiful on social media. With sport having the potential to positively influence children’s physical, psychological, and social health, it is important to help children enjoy playing sport and continue participating.

Camilla Knight in lecture

The method

Dr Camilla Knight and her team have worked with parents, sports organisations and teams across the world, as well as the NSPCC Child Protection in Sport Unit, to explore the individual, social, environmental, and cultural factors that influence parental behaviours in sport.

The impact

  • Dr Knight’s research has encouraged a worldwide change in how parents and professionals in youth sports work together, enhancing relationships and interactions.
  • Recommendations have been adopted by local, national and international sports organisations. These include:
    • Swansea City Football Club,
    • Swansea Tennis Academy,
    • Sport Wales,
    • Welsh Rugby Union,
    • Rugby Football Union,
    • British Cycling,
    • the NSPCC Child Protection in Sport Unit,
    • Active for Life in Canada,
    • Canada Soccer, and
    • Sport New Zealand.
  • In collaboration with the Child Protection in Sport Unit, Dr Knight’s work has underpinned an international social media campaign “Parents in Sport Week”, which has facilitated national and international policy and practise and has contributed to the shift in engagement with parents of youth sports participants. This campaign alone has positively influenced engagement with over 20,000 parents and their children across the world over the last three years.

Swansea University Research Themes