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We recently concluded the capacity building of our new batch of ENGAGE Sport Coaches, our flagship program that train local youth with a passion for sports to become coaches of teams of peers living with disabilities who share the same love with them.

It is learning and sharing experience with a two way, mutual learning created from the interactions and work among peers with and without disabilities.

The capacity building has been intensive, lasting for eight one day fulltime sessions covering a variety of issues including personal development, leadership enhancement skills and of course technical sports coaching components.

Last Saturday we conducted the final oral examination consisting of twenty to thirty minutes of one to one conversation based on standardized questions mainly related to areas of personal development and leadership.

We want to attach particular importance to these issues because the ENGAGE Sport Coach experience is also a platform for developing the members, personally and professionally.

It is not just about ensuring our coaches’ growth. By embracing the program, the ENGAGE Sport Coaches are also aimed, through their work, at creating new partnerships, meaningful relationships or “developmental” as we learned from our trainings, that can help a peer to grow as person and as a professional.

It is also about creating an understanding that the learning will also inspired and driven by interacting and working with their respective players.

Throughout the trainings, we tried to be as practical as possible so that it would be easy for them to embed and internalize the learning.

The interviews were mostly brilliant with our ENGAGE Sport Coaches showing confidence and knowledge of the issues covered during the trainings.

Here few stories of how the interviews went. These are short comments on what truly impressed me and inspired me. I won’t mention any name here in order not to be unfair to anyone.

The true is that I could write stories for each of them, something I will do when we will officially introduce each of our new ENGAGE Sport Coaches.

Showing the real true self: one of our coaches defined himself during the interview as a being a bit “anti-social” in the sense that he is a bit introvert and shy from building relationships.

There is nothing wrong with this and it is written nowhere that to succeed you must be an extrovert.

The fact that this coach openly shares his real self, acknowledging and fully understanding that in his new capacities it will be essential engaging the players and building a rapport with them while opening up about some challenges he might face, is remarkable.

I love this honesty and total frankness and I am sure that this promising young professional will find a way to build a solid relationship with his players. It might take a bit more time, it might take a different way around but I am sure that our Coach will give his best to his players, providing great insights, knowledge and expertise in his service.

Learning more from the cards: We have been teaching some life coaching inspired techniques to all our ENGAGE Sport Coaches because we believe that some of them, for example, probing and questioning, the cornerstone of life coaching, can be truly powerful and helpful.

Instead of the usual approach of giving advice and feedback like mentors normally do, we believe more in “life coaching” way of helping people: each of us knows it better what course our life should take. We might need support and help in navigating different options but the true answers are within ourselves.

One of the questions asked during the interview was what “would you do as Coach if a player asks for help to go to U.S.A.”?

Through this question, we wanted to understand if our coaches could handle this situation and take this as an opportunity to really work with their players  for their growth by borrowing from some of the life coaching techniques.

One of our coaches, one of the youngest struggled a bit in answering.

Once we gave him a feedback about some life coaching techniques, his eyes opened up, showing interests and determination to improve his skills in this area. I had even to interrupt him when in the course of another question, he could not help himself going back on the issues of life coaching techniques.

At the end with great joy, we offered him to bring home for a look some professional coaching cards donated to ENGAGE by our friend and professional leadership trainer Caroline Leroy who has been helping and advising ENGAGE on matters related to leadership practice.

You should not be surprised that the same Coach at the end of the interview was happy when we encouraged him to know more about leadership by reading some of the materials in our library, accepting to read a seminal leadership book from the legendary Coach K, the amazing coach of Duke Blue Devils men’s basketball team.

Winning over shyness: He has been struggling to speak in public throughout the entire cycle of trainings but in the interview, the Coach in question was confident and well prepared and able to explain the concepts in a clear articulate way. What an amazing change in such span of time. During the various sessions, this Coach has shared that he has been trying to fight fears of speaking in public. During the interview, we saw a remarkable change, wow!

I was impressed because normally many interviewers have an unconscious bias towards the more outspoken candidates.

What a mistake! It is something I personally learned from experience in my previous life when I was working in an international not for profit and I was very much involved in the HR selection process.

At the end of the interview, I stood up and gave a strong handshake to him, showing my happiness and joy, congratulating on him for his outstanding performance and improvements.

It takes time like the old good wine: I had met this coach three years ago while we were doing some activities in his college. At that time, he was part of the most active group that was behind the efforts of All Inclusive Empowering Club, organizing small activities in the field of social inclusion. At that time, I could see his interest but somehow I missed his potential. Maybe it was just a question of maturity or priorities of the time but this young guy, back then, while committed to the cause, had never really taken a true leadership role. What a change now! We have remained in touch since then and almost by chance he joined the ENGAGE Sport Coach program.

Now I can really see how focused this young professional is, how much efforts is putting in becoming an ENGAGE Sport Coach and how proactive he has become. He has very clear ideas and he working very hard to go studying in the U.S.A. and I am confident he will win this challenge.

Better late than never and it is improving: She has been struggling with punctuality and at the beginning of the capacity building, we had doubts about her commitment or better about her ability to manage her busy schedules. What really helped was to have a frank, open discussion with her and it was really worthy. When we found out that one of her pressing concerns was to be able to continue to work part time on Saturday afternoon, we showed all the possible flexibility in keeping her in the program. It was worthy 100%.

Her interview was probably not the best of the day but the fact that she was there, that she was challenging herself to be better and to be part of the program, was really important and satisfying. Sometimes young people do not show all their potential, some of them are taking more time, some of them are a bit lagging behind but it is important that all of them are showing a commitment and resolution to be, paraphrasing Coach Wooden, the better of what they can be!

We are happy and honored that this Coach boldly decided to continue with us, determined to be better and stronger.

There are other stories coming from last Saturday interview but this is for another piece.


These are few stories from incredible youth. They are not incredible because they are specially gifted or super talented but they are truly impressive because they invested a lot of time, accepting our challenge and showing showed commitment and stewardship.

Aware of their potential, they are ready to work hard to improve, learn and be useful in any way they can.

At ENGAGE we feel lucky and extremely proud of having all of them on board, regardless of their capacities and skills. All of them are going to be our new champions of social inclusion.

Position: Co -Founder of ENGAGE,a new social venture for the promotion of volunteerism and service and Ideator of Sharing4Good

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