The National Soccer Coaches Association of America has put together a program to educate soccer coaches about LGBT issues and homophobia on their teams.
The video course, which takes about 15 minutes to complete, walks coaches through the mindset of out and closeted LGBT athletes and colleagues and suggests actions they can take to improve the environment for these people.
Connecticut high school soccer coach Dan Woog knows a thing or two about this. He’s won state championships with his teams and came out as gay about two decades ago. He’s also chair of the NSCAA’s LGBT group.
“It’s simply a change in your mindset and the way you approach others,” Woog said. “The more prepared you are, the better coach you will be.”
To be sure, coaches cannot necessarily end all homophobic language on a team. Even gay coaches hear slip-ups from time to time; And if they are hearing slip-ups that happen in front of them, you know it’s happening plenty when they’re not around.
Still, being aware of the issue and approaching it proactively can certainly help create an atmosphere where an LGBT athlete at least feels they have somewhere to go.
The course does make a misstep, forcing coaches to add the “A” to “LGBT” and forcing them to agree that the “A” stands for “Ally.” Still, it’s great to see the effort, and I’ll address the “A for Ally” community-wide issue in another post. Thank you NSCAA and Dan Woog for your leadership on this!