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In the resent years, the concept of dual career has received considerable attention from all stakeholders of sport in Europe. This was as a result of growing concern that young elite sports persons were finding it increasingly challenging to combine their sport and education while actively competing, often compromising to a large extent their lifestyles and post-athletic career planning. The findings from one of the earlier pan-European research studies (Education of young sportspersons, Final Report, PMP in partnership with the Institute of Sport and Leisure Policy, Loughborough University) indicated clearly that elite athletes often struggle to achieve a balance between sporting, academic and personal life due to the intensive training and competition requirements placed upon them.

Currently, it is still challenging because dual career arrangements are relatively recent in the majority of Member States and sports. In Member States where these arrangements have been developed for some time, they sometimes lack solid agreements between the sport system and either the educational sector or the labor market. They may also lack a legal framework or a sustainable governmental policy.

The European Commission declared in 2007 in its “White paper on Sport” the importance to provide of “Dual Career” training for young sportsmen and sportswomen already in an early stage in order to ensure the reintegration of professional sportspersons into the labor market at the end of their sporting careers. The European Commission’s study on the training of young sportsmen and sportswomen in Europe reveals that 76 % of the athletes are concerned about making the transition from sport to education or a professional career. Only 10 % of athletes from the A2B study survey (Athletes-To-Business, March 2011, on behalf of the European Commission) took part in a career program. Athletes are often even not aware of existing initiatives or there are no programmes available or interesting to them. Dual Career approaches should counteract this restraints and troubles.

In 2013, the European Commission issued “EU Guidelines on Dual Careers of Athletes” in which it is stated the importance of developing policies to support such arrangements. However, in this document it is also reported that such arrangements are relatively recent in the majority of Member States and sports and in cases that they have been developed, they usually lack solid agreements between the sport system and the educational sector or the labor market. Nevertheless, the Commission’s Communication highlights a number of ways in which sport can contribute to the targets of the Europe 2020 strategy stating “sport has a strong potential to contribute to smart, sustainable and inclusive growth and new jobs through its positive effects on social inclusion, education and training, and public health”.

According to international research, one-third of all participants between the ages of 10 and 17 withdraw from sports each year as they consider that sport takes up too much of their time and prevents them from pursuing other things in life (e.g. to study). More efforts therefore need to be made to coordinate and support athletes’ dual careers to keep talented young people in sports and educational systems and make them aware of the benefits of a dual career. This process will enhance the responsibility of young athletes while making them aware of the benefits of a dual career. There is no single model to be recommended on how to include all related policy domains in the dual career framework, nor can it be said which sector should take the lead in this coordination process.

Dual career management in this context refers to the duration of time in which individuals combine their education/professional career together with high performance sports. This could last from a period of a few months to a number of years and overlap with compulsory schooling (in the case of early specialization sports such as gymnastics), post-compulsory schooling (including Higher Education and vocational education and training (VET) sector), up until a post-athletic career is attained. Therefore, a successful combination of education, training or work with sport can enable an individual to reach his or her full potential in life.

In terms of dual career, Lithuanian and Estonian athletes face a lacking awareness, information and education. More than this, coaches, sport clubs and even the parents are putting a lot of pressure on young athletes for top results, but nobody thinks what those athletes will do at the end of their career or in case of injury which prevents them from continuing a sport career.

Consequently, the intention of the proposed project Second turn – employability after the sport (hereinafter – SUPPORT) would be through the networking and identification and sharing of good practices to create the foundation of the career counseling and advisory system (CCAS) in Lithuania and Estonia, where dual career subject has only now started to develop and the need of existing theoretical framework’s and practical its execution is crucial, in order to increase young and mature professional athlete’s to reach their potential in education alongside achieving success in their sports. The goal is to build the dual career support structure which would be based on the acknowledged an enhanced level of academic flexibility and understanding, allowing talented athletes to balance their studies with a hectic sporting schedule.

This project will focus on the priority of supporting the implementation of EU policy documents in the field of sport and other relevant policy areas such as Council resolutions and conclusions, guidelines, action and work plans, strategies, etc. (e.g. EU Guidelines on Dual Careers of Athletes, European Union Work Plan for Sport, European Commission’s Study on the training of young sportsmen and sportswomen in Europe, Council conclusions on entrepreneurship in education and training, etc.).

The aim of the SUPPORT project to disclose a theoretical framework of dual career policies, which would provide a sound theoretical basis for dual career practical actions and program.

Target group of the SUPPORT project – professional athletes who have chosen sports as their main career goal.

Therefore, the overall objectives of SUPPORT are:

  • to promote and support good governance in sport and dual careers of athletes;
  • to ensure networking among stakeholders and strengthen cooperation on the topic of the dual careers in sport;
  • to encourage promotion, identification and sharing of good practices on the topic of the dual careers for athletes;
  • to help athletes with transition to new career possibilities from sport into the labor market.

Specific objectives of SUPPORT:

  • to disclose a theoretical framework of dual career policies in partner countries;
  • to prepare dual career outline for career counseling and advisory system;
  • to prepare a draft of practical actions for career counseling and advisory system.

Project partners:

  • National olympic committee of Estonia
  • National olympic committee of Germany
  • Sport club „Tritonas“

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