New website RESPECT YOUR TALENT

Introducing the new digital home of RESPECT YOUR TALENT

RESPECT YOUR TALENT is a trailblazing talent support programme co-created by the European Handball Federation (EHF) and TW1N to promote the holistic development of talented players’ careers; on and off the handball court. This week, the brand new online environment of RESPECT YOUR TALENT was launched on the Home of Handball.

In the programme’s pioneering approach, the world’s best handball players supported by leading field experts inspire and instruct young athletes covering topics such as dual career, well-being, integrity of sport, media or sports law. Furthermore, the programme will serve as a central source of competence, assisting the European handball family with training, research and network opportunities to foster sustainable pathways of aspiring players.

"Handball talents who dedicate themselves to a competitive pathway deserve to be supported. While a pleasure, I feel also honoured to play a part in this programme."

Stefan Lövgren - RESPECT YOUR TALENT Ambassador

 

New online activities in 2021

RESPECT YOUR TALENT has found its dedicated space on the Home of Handball of the EHF. Handball talents, their sporting, academic and private entourage, as well as interested fans can find a wealth of information regarding the programme’s unique activities. The digital environment thereby offers new possibilities to the programme.

Fueled by the COVID-19 pandemic, RESPECT YOUR TALENT will soon introduce a set of online activities alongside its established on-site formats. In so-called "Ambassador Sessions", a unique team of world handball stars and topical experts will work with talented players in customized online workshop formats. Moreover, the RESPECT YOUR TALENT Toolkit will be created; a digital space for self- development which offers talented players and their support network manifold resources that help boost young handball careers on and off the court.

Get informed, get inspired! Visit the new RESPECT YOUR TALENT Website on the Home of Handball here.


On and Off - A quest for meaning

On & Off: A quest for meaning

High-level demands and a multitude of manifold transitions at a young age represent modern performance pathways. In such environments, research shows that the athletes' undertaking of dual career development measures next to sport appears to have interesting side effects on athletic level.

High-performance programmes have experienced new recent dynamics, becoming particularly apparent in professional sports. Increased training hours, international transfers of teenagers, extensive mobility, an aggregate of external expectations or (insufficiently regulated) agent structures are just a few selected attributes of this development.

While some sporting systems content themselves with calling this "part of the game", innovative approaches are aware of the danger of uprooting young people face through their competitive lifestyle. On that score, dual career development has traditionally been judged (mainly) a corporate social responsibility of sport. This angle of view misses out on dual career as a supreme factor of athletic development.

The effect of off-field activities on on-field performance

A study of Saunders/Pink (2014) conducted within the Australian Football League shows that dual career development perceived as valuable by players has a statistically significant association with higher levels of athletic engagement. The study interprets that the more players perceive themselves as competent in the intellectual domain, and that they are supported by their sporting system with respect to their off‐field activity (in addition to dual career development, this is defined to span recreation, development of life skills, cultural immersion, spending time with friendship groups, and appearances/community), the more likely they have such a valuable experience:

"These results support previous qualitative research (…) that suggests an athlete's experiences in activities that serve to prepare for life after football will be influenced both by the athlete’s sense of efficacy in such activities and the support they receive from their sporting club or organisation to participate in them."

Together, athletic engagement (which is expected to lead to sustained and higher levels of performance) and club support for off‐field life were able to predict 5.5% of the variance in coaches’ subjective ratings of the players' performance. According to the study, these results are also consistent with contemporary human resources investigations that support the link between the holistic support of employees, their sense of work-life balance, and increased productivity. A many-sided life design of athletes, in this understanding, represents a powerful ingredient of their personal capacity, in and after the sporting career.

Another recent evaluation undertaken within the Australian National Rugby League moreover demonstrates that higher levels of engagement in preretirement planning are positively associated with team selection, team tenure, and career tenure (Lavallee, 2019). The effect on performance is exerted through the experience of career counsellors and the number of intervention support sessions the athletes participate in.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=89KdxJomDzg&t=471s

System support

Considering that talent systems equal high-performance environments which strive to maximise their output, the support of athletes' off‐field lives should therefore be seen as an integral part of development plans in sport. With reference to the aforementioned importance of the perceived value of undertaken measures, the quest for meaning becomes a crucial factor for mental health, adolescent flourishing and performance enhancement.

Meaning requires the maintenance and constant re-definition of the individual relation of athletes to the enormous investments they are willing to make. Finding answers on "What does this have to do with me?" or "What am I doing this for?" is key to an intrinsically motivated pursuit of personal goals, integrating sport and education. This highlights the significance of specialized counselling staff contracted by high-performance systems, such as dual career counsellors, lifestyle advisors or player development managers.

The right place

When it comes to counselling of athletes, its strategic positioning as an external service can be advisable, especially in professional club contexts. Here, the service is delivered by a non-system professional. This approach roots in the conviction that holistic counselling (touching sporting, educational and private spheres of life) shall be provided but not run by the inner system itself. Instead, such systems promote the creation of a neutral space that needs to be made evident to the athletes.

Proven and tested, athletes substantially benefit from an independent expectation-free zone beyond sport coaches, agents, teachers, parents or peers; as they do from a counselling service that is detached from systemic bonds. This being a multi-dimensional task, a functional inter-connection with sport, education, psychology or other internal service units is naturally required.

Owing to this positioning, counselling is enabled to consistently commit to one thing only: the athlete and their individual pursuit of a meaningful pathway in the world of high-level sport.

TW1N has a broad track record as a trusted partner of various European high-performance environments, both at talent and senior level. Want to know more? Click here to see what TW1N can do for your institution.

References

  • Lavallee, D. (2019): Engagement in Sport Career Transition Planning Enhances Performance. In: Journal of Loss and Trauma 2019, VOL. 24, NO. 1, 18
  • Saunders, J. & Pink, M. (2014): The Relationship between Player Off‐field Engagement and On‐field Performance: Final Report. An AFL Research Board Study

Note: In the study of Saunders/Pink (2014), dual career development is referred to as "alternative career development" (ACD).


RESPECT YOUR TALENT has been an affair of the heart for TW1N in 2019. Together with the European Handball Federation (EHF), we launched this programme to take responsibility for the sustainable development of talented players across Europe, on and off the court.

Didactically, the programme aims to break new grounds. In our approach, the world's best handball players inspire young athletes in a joint effort with leading experts. These sport stars act as true ambassadors of dual career and the realization of meaningful life aside from their athletic career.

 

Inspiring the future of European handball

After a successful Summer Tour, last week, the first ever EHF RESPECT YOUR TALENT Camp was held in Vienna. In 5 training sessions, 30 female players from 18 European countries had the chance to work with Olympic champion and professional photographer Kari Aalvik Grimsbø, Champions League winner and economics & finance master’s degree holder Jelena Grubišić, French Championship top scorer 2018 and tourism student Ana Gros, IHF World Player of the Year 2013 and handball academy operator Andrea Lekic, as well as Champions League winner Anja Althaus, trained technician and hairdresser.

"Given their own pathways, the RESPECT YOUR TALENT ambassadors are true role models when it comes to personal development on and off the court."

Wolfgang Stockinger
Co-Creator of RESPECT YOUR TALENT

Learning from the best: the RESPECT YOUR TALENT "Ambassador Islands" © Uros Hocevar/kolektiff

Dual career, anti-doping, sports law, on-camera and social media training

On day 1, TW1N Founder & CEO Wolfgang Stockinger, who acts as the EHF’s Scientific Specialist on Dual Careers, and the Slovenian national team captain Ana Gros inspired the participants how education and skills outside of handball cannot only help their future vocational career but also their athletic development. Raising awareness of doping controls and procedures were then explained in detail by five-time EHF EURO champion Kari Aalvik Grimsbo and anti-doping expert Prof. Hans Holdhaus.

The following day, the camp focused on dealing with the media, concretely the use of social media and sports law. Anja Althaus and award-winning Austrian sports journalist Karoline Zobernig advised the group on how to handle media requests and answering difficult questions in interviews. The girls were then introduced to the world of social media by Andrea Lekic and the EHF’s Digital Content Manager Berenice Rallier. The pair discussed the best ways of creating content, explained what to post and what not post and gave guidance on how to protect their accounts. Signing and negotiating contracts, the dangers of match-fixing and choosing an agent were the topics explained by Jelena Grubišić. Joined by Andreas Joklik, the EHF expert for sports law, the two gave the group the lowdown on these key subjects which are often overlooked by young players.

On-camera training with Karoline Zobernig © Uros Hocevar/kolektiff

The camp also gave the girls opportunity to meet each other and the project ambassadors in a more relaxing environment. On both days, they had the opportunity to explore the Austrian capital and visit some of the most popular city attractions like the Vienna Giant Ferris wheel and the renowned Viennese Christmas market. They also learned something completely different: how to make the perfect apple strudel – an Austrian favourite.

Team building Austrian style: strudel baking at Castle Schönbrunn © Uros Hocevar/kolektiff

RESPECT YOUR TALENT continues in 2020

After our Summer Tour across Europe and the first RESPECT YOUR TALENT Camp, our project will continue in 2020 at the Men’s 18 and 20 EHF EUROs and EHF Championships. In total, seven competitions will be held over the summer of 2020 starting in July with M20 EHF EURO in Innsbruck (AUT) and Brixen (ITA) and continue with the M20 EHF Championships in Bugojno (BIH) and Riga (LAT). August will bring M18 EHF EURO in Celje (SLO) and three M18 EHF Championships in Burgas (BUL), Skopje (MKD) and Podgorica (MNE).

Happy end: the RESPECT YOUR TALENT ambassadors & Wolfgang Stockinger © Uros Hocevar/kolektiff
Olympic rings table light

TW1N Masterclass in the NOC*NSF

As the centrepiece of Dutch elite sport, TeamNL unites 29 national sport federations. This week, TW1N was invited to advise their labour market programme TeamNL@work.

While schooling and higher (or adult) education still dominate the European dual career discourse, systematic work-sport solutions and the professional support of athletes' transition into post-athletic life remain subordinate topics. Fortunately, there are exceptions to be found in the EU.

TeamNL@work, implemented by the Dutch Olympic Committee*National Sports Federation (NOC*NSF), aims to target these topics systematically. TW1N is honoured to deliver consulting services for the programme. This week, we conducted a "TW1N Masterclass" on athlete employability and transition support in the National Sports Centre of Papendal.

A bit of dual career philosophy

As dual careers of athletes are complex patterns of movements, transitions and environments, support programmes rely on their ability to see the big picture and get behind systemic interlinkages. In this regard, leaving well-known sport grounds can help.

Philosophical ideas such as those from Søren Kierkegaard, Niklas Luhmann or Martin Buber secretly carry big (athletic) potential. How to de-cypher these ideas and practically relate them to the topics of proactive career development and professional transition support, served as the functional side note of our 2 topical Masterclass modules. 

From work-sport solutions to labour market integration

What is the motivation of organisations to consider elite sport-friendly workplaces? What does it require from a company to include active elite athletes in their staff pool? How can inclusion conditions within the labour organisation be adapted so that the work performance of athletes is connectable to the systemic logic of the free economy AND allows the compatilibility with the systemic logic of elite sport? In the first part of our workshop, these questions took centre stage, while the afternoon was dedicated to the personal dynamics of athletic retirement. How can dual career service providers professionally prepare athletes for their sensitive transition into the job market?

Thank you to the NOC*NSF and its TeamNL@work partner institutions, Stichting Sporttop, de SportMaatschappij, UWV and Fanbased Foundation for your involvement.

NOC*NSF, TeamNL, Masterclass
Wolfgang Stockinger (TW1N) with Wanda Schapendonk and Marjolein Miltenburg (NOC*NSF)