It’s hard to imagine that part of the qualifications to be a certified coach or even on-ice volunteer in B.C. is a three-hour online test, but that’s the new reality for minor hockey in the province.
More akin to a driver’s exam than a hockey drill, all Prince Rupert Minor Hockey Association (PRMHA) coaches, volunteers and anyone interacting with the players on-ice or off, have been taking the lengthy ‘Respect in Sport’ online course – a test they must pass to even set foot behind the bench.
“It’s probably been in effect for about three or four years,” said PRMHA head coach and Initiation A and B bench boss Gary Coons last week.
“Any new parents that want to come out and just help out, they have to [have completed] Respect in Sport and [all coaches and volunteers] must have a criminal record check and then you’re allowed on the ice. Once you get up to house league, you need different certifications and qualifications to be on the bench and rep hockey as well and so on … there’s quite a laundry list of credentials coaches need now.”
The course is mandated in PRMHA and across Hockey Canada and is described as “a tool to assist coaches in identifying and dealing with abuse, neglect, harassment and bullying in sport”.
Respect in Sport (RIS) includes audio and visual presentations in the curriculum, presentations, quizzes and printable handouts.
The three hours within the course can be split up into six different half-hour segments to make it easier for the participant.
By Sept. 1 of this year, all PRMHA coaches and on-ice volunteers must have taken the course and it also must be renewed every four years.
“We’re going through the process right now of identifying coaches who need to update it, but new coaches, division managers, people working in the canteen – I think it’s an expectation that everybody takes Respect in Sport … Wwe’re letting people know if their certification [status] runs out,” said Coons.
RIS’ mandate is that anyone who is in a leadership position with youth or adults and involved in sport must have the RIS knowledge, which helps the participant by better understanding the responsibilities, reward and respect that come with being a coach, being more confident in identifying and dealing with abuse, neglect, bullying and harassment, ensuring a respectful environment and mitigating personal liability associated with abuse, neglect and bullying.
At PRMHA’s 2014-15 year-end AGM, the organization fielded concerns from a few parents who wanted there to be one adult in the dressing room at all times to ensure no bullying takes place. The executive responded by saying this is a policy already in place, but will be enforced more strictly this season.
Registration is ongoing for the PRMHA’s 2015-16 season and the new low-price initiative for all new players has attracted 13 brand new players to the game across all ages to the organization. Overall registration sat at 147 players as of last Thursday and the executive expects the numbers to grow after Labour Day and school has hit.
Anyone wishing to get involved and lend a hand with PRMHA can contact Coons through email at firstname.lastname@example.org.