Young Ordinary and Disabled sports Athletes’ MENTORS (YODA MENTORS) will be a pilot programme to contribute towards the establishment of a dual-career framework in participants’ organizations and countries, which could ultimately be scaled-up across the EU. The project opens the way for a new dialogue among mentors and student-athletes from different countries (Italy, Spain, Portugal, Greece, Latvia, and Lithuania) allowing for cross-border matching and thus expanding the range of experts available as mentors for athletes to find the perfect match, regardless of their country of residence. The strong relationship between mentors and athletes forged through the programme fosters networking in a way that would not be possible without such initiative.

The concept of dual-career means balancing sport and studies so that athletes can succeed in both areas. Many dual-career programmes mainly focus on (re)entering the labour market once the sport career is over, instead of helping athletes throughout. YODA MENTORS is about developing a training programme for dual careersmentors, in order to qualify them to provide informed advice and support to athletes throughout their sports career, right from the start (from secondary education through to higher education). Our programme will offer comprehensive training, valid both for mentors-to-be (and student-athletes) with and without disabilities. Training will be done mainly online, in a user-friendly and accessible virtual environment, thus bringing down time and space barriers to make mentor training opportunities available anytime, anywhere, in all participants’ countries.

Sports professionalization is applied to every young athlete, on every sports discipline, and young athletes’events are growing every season, becoming massive events. As a consequence of this, many young athletes may often see their sports careers and studies overlapping. Moreover, this situation is happening at young ages, as athletes need to start their professional and high-performance sports careers early in their lives. It is at that time when dual-career start.

YODA MENTORS aims to establish an online educational programme which ultimately helps mentors to guide young athletes for a successful management of their academic and professional sports careers from an early stage. Furthermore, YODA MENTORS will focus on inclusion and accessibility, as our programme aims to disable such as able-bodied athletes. Needless to say, athletes with disabilities face additional challenges in their studies too. We believe any dual-career initiative should bear in mind the special needs of athletes with disabilities, especially in training mentors for dual-careers.

The 3 main objectives pursued in YODA MENTORS are the following:

  1. To redefine the professional mentor’s figure based on the experiences and results of previous Erasmus+ projects on dual-careers, such as the skill-set, knowledge, and attitudes necessary for dual-career’s mentors.
  2. To develop a mentors’ training programme in an accessible virtual environment to qualify experts in dual-career management, with the necessary skill-set to provide support to disable and able-bodied athletes, easy to be adapted and implemented in all participants’ countries.
  3. To raise awareness on the special needs and challenges of athletes with disabilities in terms of accessibility, and its consequences as an obstacle on their dual-careers, and to train mentors in order to help student-athletes overcome those challenges.

YODA MENTORS will also achieve some other secondary objectives:

  • To foster study- and sport-career balance, providing support to athletes with and without disabilities.
  • To create a network of mentors’ experts in dual-career within the EU, and promote the needs and work for this new professional figure.
  • To draft and disseminate (with the input of all participants’ experts in the project) a protocol for monitoring athletes’ dual-careers, and a collection of necessary features and elements of an effective mentor’s training and the student-athlete mentorship programme.
  • To provide a Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC) in order to foster international online mentorship and athletes’ mobility.

YODA Leaflet