Having a Voice in Youth Sport - a Conditional Right for Young athletes

Project Leader

  • Karin Redelius


  • Department of Movement, Culture and Society

Research Funders

  • Swedish National Centre for Research in Sports


Below you can read summaries about the project in English and/or Swedish. The information is taken from the publication database DiVA.

Despite a growing interest in issues concerning children's rights in sport, there are still areas that concern the well-being of youth in sport that need attention. Research acknowledges for example the role of overtraining, sexual abuse, burnout and dropout (David, 2005; Donnelly, 2008). Hong (2004) points out that an important factor that may prevent many violations is to secure that young athletes always have a voice; i.e. to guarantee that they can exercise their participation rights in the sporting context. Although this endeavour is tantamount to the intentions in the Convention on the Rights of the Child that recently was incorporated into Swedish law, research about youths' rights to have a voice is scarce.

The overall aim of this study is therefore to analyse the conditions for youth to exercise their participation rights in sport. The focus is on equestrianism and ice hockey.

Central questions are:
1) What are the possibilities in general for young riders and players to have something to say about their participation: when and on what matters do they have a voice?
2) What actions, if any, do instructors and coaches take to secure a child right's perspective? and
3) What characterize sporting cultures where youths either can or cannot exercise the right to express their views freely and to have them accounted for?

A premise for the study is that young participants and adult instructors and coaches are socio-culturally situated and thereby act in manners they feel are possible or required (Saljti, 2014), which is dependent on the prevailing movement culture (Engstrom, Redelius, Larsson, 2017). Another premise is that having a voice is not a dichotomous variable, hence the ladder of participation diagram will be used as a typology in the analyses (Hart, 1992). The project consists of two different sub-studies. One is directed towards youth in order to analyse how their agency is located within social interactions and hierarchical structures; when and on what matters can they express their views. The second is focusing on instructors and coaches to analyse their possibilities to create a learning situation where young people can exercise their rights. The methodological approach is empirical and questionnaires, observations and interviews will be used to provide a comprehensive picture of conditions that enable or prevent youth to have a voice in the sporting context.