Professor Joan Duda with staff and students at Universidade São Judas Tadeu, São Paulo
Professor Joan Duda – fourth from right, rear – with staff and students at Universidade São Judas Tadeu, São Paulo

Childhood obesity and youth mental health problems are rising in Brazil, but charities, sports organisations and policy makers have an opportunity to encourage more young Brazilians to boost their wellbeing through innovative sport and physical activity coaching.

As in many countries, many young people are not doing enough daily physical activity with this trend linked to childhood weight and mental health problems. The motivational climate in which sport and physical education are delivered is key to keeping engaged in the activity and experience wellbeing.

Now University of Birmingham sports scientists are seeking support in giving more young Brazilians the chance to participate in sport, dance, physical education delivered in a more empowering way.

They hope that charities, sports organisations and policy makers will back the further rollout of their Empowering Coaching™ training programme for coaches, teachers, and parents throughout Brazil.

Professor Joan Duda held a special Empowering Coaching™ dissemination event at São Paulo's Museu do Futbol, where sport clubs, foundations, NGOs, and educational organizations learned more about her team’s work.

As well as collaboration with colleagues in Spain and Mexico and a number of countries around the world, Professor Duda and her academic colleagues at Universidade São Judas Tadeu (USJT) in São Paulo recently started to deliver Empowering Coaching™ workshops to Brazilian sport coaches and sport scientists working with athletes.

Professor Duda, who is Professor of Sport and Exercise Psychology in the School of Sport, Exercise & Rehabilitation Sciences at the University of Birmingham, commented: “Sport and school-based physical education are vital for promoting active lifestyles and wellbeing during childhood. However, there are times when young people’s engagement in such endeavours has them feeling worse about themselves and wanting to drop out.

“Given the potential impact of optimising the motivational climate in sport and education on the health and wellbeing of young people, we are very keen to continue the growth of this important initiative across Brazil. We want young people to have greater self-motivation and make it more likely that their participation is engaging, enabling and enjoyable.

“Empowering Coaching™ training for coaches and programme volunteers is helping young Brazilians, including those from economically disadvantaged backgrounds, experience better quality participation in sport, dance and other leisure time pursuits which can enhance the adoption of active and healthy lifestyles and improve their sense of self-worth and overall quality of life.”

The Empowering Coaching™ programme helps the ‘significant others’ surrounding our youth create more positive and adaptive environments for young people. This is achieved through systematic and evidence-based training for coaches, teachers, and parents.

Empowering Coaching™ enhances understanding of why an empowering approach is more adaptive and what are the costs of disempowering behaviours. The training also facilitates the development and implementation of more empowering strategies. In sport, the training programme has been delivered to coaches working at the grassroots through elite levels.

Professor Robin Mason, Pro Vice Chancellor (International) commented: “The University of Birmingham has extensive partnerships with top universities in Brazil and seeks to answer some of the most challenging questions of the 21st Century.

“As a strategic region of importance, we are investing in Brazil to develop purposeful partnerships that have a real impact on the lives of people in this country. We hope that Professor Duda and our Brazilian partners can build on the success of Empowering Coaching to support young Brazilians.”

The University of Birmingham has more than 70 researchers engaged in partnerships with top Brazilian universities. It has particularly strong links with institutions in the Sao Paulo region, including Sao Paulo State University (UNESP), University of Campinas (UNICAMP), University of Sao Paulo (USP) and the Federal University of ABC (UFABC).

Priority research areas include: sustainable cities; energy—oil and gas/earth sciences; energy storage and policy; bio-materials; and infectious diseases. The University’s signature ‘Brazil Visiting Fellows Programme is now in its seventh year with Brazilian academics developing research relationships with Birmingham collaborators.

  • For further information or to arrange an interview, please contact International Communications Manager Tony Moran at the University of Birmingham on +44 (0)121 414 8254 / +44 (0)782 783 2312.
  • The University of Birmingham is ranked amongst the world’s top 100 institutions, its work brings people from across the world to Birmingham, including researchers and teachers and more than 6,500 international students from over 150 countries.
  • Empowering Coaching™ is currently an operating division within Birmingham Enterprise, the University of Birmingham’s research commercialisation company. The aim is to have Empowering Coaching™ become a sustainable social enterprise focused on the development and delivery of scientifically informed training programmes for coaches, managers, teachers, parents and young people involved in sport/physical activities from recreational through elite levels.