Teamwork and leadership : competitive youth soccer as a context for positive youth development
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The purpose of this study was to examine processes and interactions that characterized positive developmental experiences in sport. A highly competitive and reputable U-17 girls' soccer team was chosen for the study through purposeful sampling, providing an information rich case from which data could be derived (Patton, 2002). Seventeen players and three coaches participated in this study. Based on an ethnographic methodology data were collected via observations and both informal and formal semi-structured interviews. Tlie data were coded according to the three procedures outlined by Seidel and Kelle (1995): a) noticing relevant phenomena, b) collecting examples of those phenomena, and c) analyzing those phenomena in order to find commonalities, differences, patterns and structures. Significant events and underlying themes were recounted chronologically through a collection of vignettes, aimed to provide a contextual lens for the reader. Results revolved around two prominent themes: Teamwork and leadership. These were closely related concepts that required players to demonstrate a wide range of developmental skills for the team to move collectively towards their end goal. Furthermore, teamwork and leadership experiences took both desirable and undesirable forms. For example, at the beginning of the season competition existed amongst the players at the expense of teamwork and leadership. As the season progressed the pursuit of a shared goal allowed the players to view each other as collaborators and teamwork and leadership skills became increasingly evident. At times, however, success on the field was prioritized above maintaining relationships off the field, requiring the coaches to intervene and re-establish equilibrium.