In order to create an optimal dual career environment it is critical that the philosophy on dual career of the club is decided and clear. This is how you make people part of your project. This is the most important step in the success of the DONA project. Use the information below to develop and communicate your philosophy.
How to create the club’s Philosophy on dual career:
WHO: develop a philosophy, the vision for your programme, with a group of people. Work with experts and involve important stakeholders to develop this vision. Even when they are not involved in the Dual Career Club Management, they might be a helpful addition to the process. Representatives of the club could be the management, coaches, captain of a team, involved parents, the educational system. Ensure that all involved members are aware of the personal and athletic benefits associated with maintaining education and engaging in a dual career. Note: use your ambassador(s) to communicate your values and your philosophy to the athletes.
HOW: find a suitable way to interact with the representatives. For example, start with a brainstorm session, or let everyone make a list with the three matters that are most important to them regarding dual career. Or make small groups and let them think about the most important elements of the Dual Career Support. As a starting point for this brainstorm, use the questions below. This is how you write the club’s vision together with your team.
What are the values of our organisation?
What are the important elements of a dual career?
Why is DONA important for our club?
What are your goals on this issue? (make them clear and specific).
How are the values related to the goals?
Who is involved? Which roles do they have within this vision?
How will all stakeholders be informed and aligned to the club’s vision?
Which concrete agreements can be formulated?
Communicate your philosopy:
Discuss with your team how you communicate this philosophy to the different stakeholders. The recommendations below can give you some inspiration!
Set up your website with the right philosophy on dual career and the persons involved. People want to know what you do, who you do it for and (most important) why you do it. You can use the information below to write down the why and importance of a dual career programme for the club.
The coordinator must be visible on the website with name, phone or email. Recommendation: inform people when you are available and how they can reach you.
Send your stakeholders an email or newsletter to inform them about the DONA project and the philosophy of the Dual Career Support.
Be available for questions.
Why a Dual Career?
The importance of a dual career program for the club
1) A more holistic approach in athlete development:
Athletes are developing themselves to become a more complete person, to identify themselves besides their abilities as athletes.
A sustainable dual career network creates a more balanced and confident environment for talents. Practicing an effective dual career benefits the athletes as it broadens their perspective, stimulates confidence and creates a feeling of security and balance.
2) Professionalisation of the club:
A stronger position in society. The club is jointly responsible for the development of their athletes, together with family and educational institutions. When the smoothened cooperation is established, future work of these parties will be easier. This results from the fact that there are better relations with other parties and organisations.
Professionalisation of the clubs’ staff. Connections with experts brings new knowledge to the club. Coaches will develop as they are actually becoming managers of the athlete development program.
Marketing; you are the club for dual careers. It benefits the awareness and image of the club.
CONDITIONS FOR DEVELOPING A (LONGTERM) DUAL CAREER SUPPORT SERVICE
Organise dual career support from a holistic perspective (different phases running simultaneously) and through a proactive approach.
Focus in dual career support on guiding transitions in the dual career of athletes.
Ensure that athletes develop skills that prepare them for important transitions and that can help them find a balance between sport and study/job.
Use available knowledge and experiences within the club or the dual career network to organise the support.
Organise individual lifestyle coaching and workshops for athletes with a lot of attention for personal development, goalsetting, time management, performance behaviour and self-regulation.
Focus in dual career support on the development of transferable skills that stimulate a “growth mindset” and thereby pay attention to the environment of an athlete.
Optional: facilitate study coaching within the club and make agreements with the educational sector.
The main objective of the Dual Career for Women Athletes (DONA) is to investigate, develop and test a Dual Career methodology for successfully approaching and enhancing women’s athletes Dual Careers in a form of a club-based pilot project, involving volleyball clubs from 4 different European countries.
The project will target female volleyball athletes between 12-20 years old, covering the several important development stages including major changes on academic, athletic, psychological, social and professional levels. Through the 4 participating sports clubs, 250 athletes will be directly involved in the pilot program. Athletes and main stakeholders will be first taking part in a study where DC experts (University of Ljubljana, a professional network/EAS and De SportMaatschappij, a career development center) will investigate deeper the challenges and characteristics faced by the target group. After, following the developed DC methodology several experts in key areas (such as psychologist, career coach, nutritionist etc.) led by the Dual Career Club Management (DCCM) unit will support and help athletes throughout a 3 semester long pilot programme. Further to the support services, the clubs will work on creating an optimal DC environment by setting up the necessary cooperation agreements with educational institutions and getting in direct contact with, thus involving the key identified stakeholders from the very start of the project.
Successful achievement of DONA objectives aims at:
decreasing female athletes’ dropout from sport clubs;
preparing athletes from an early age for the different transition periods ahead with developing the needed skills and competences;
increasing the number of professional and elite female volleyball players by retaining talents at clubs and supporting their DC development;
making young athletes and their families aware that it is possible to aim for both educational and sports career;
helping them finding the right balance between sports and education with providing them the needed support services;
preparing these athletes for their upcoming challenge to be successful in the change from elite sport to labour market – for the “career after the career”.