FKRM Prof takes research to new heights & places
Research expert in postitive youth development was a special guest in the Kingdom of Bahrain
Dr. Leisha Strachan spent early April in a country you have probably never heard of before.
Strachan, an associate professor in the Faculty of Kinesiology and Recreation Management, had the privilege of being the focal point of a five-day workshop and speaking engagement in the Kingdom of Bahrain for 25 high-performance national team coaches April 10 to 14.
The workshop centred on the SCORE (Sport COnect and REspect) project, a resource for coaches and athletes developed through Strachan’s research to create positive experiences in sport.
Bahrain is a small island country off the western shores of the Persian Gulf in the Middle East. While not considered an Olympic or high-level sport powerhouse by any stretch of the imagination, the country is keen on developing its sport programs through innovative research.
Also, it’s not everyday you’re invited Bahrain to present your research and share your knowledge.
And, even if someone does invite you, you might not actually believe him or her at first.
“When he asked me, in my head I was like ‘oh sure, like this is actually going to happen’,” says Strachan, recalling a brief, small-talk type of conversation she had with the Bahrain Olympic Committee’s Sports Training and Development Section head last summer.
Turns out, the chat was a little more than small talk.
This story begins last July. The setting is Olympia, Greece, where Strachan took part in the International Session for Educators, a forum for staff of higher educational institutes and educators to explore Olympic issues and practices.
As part of the session, Strachan, who specializes in positive youth development, had an opportunity to do a five-minute presentation about her research and spoke about Project SCORE.
This caught the attention of Nabeel Taha of the Bahrain Olympic Committee. He was intrigued by her research of youth and sport—so much so he insisted she come to Bahrain to present her research in a formal workshop setting.
This is the first time a Canadian has presented sport research in Bahrain.
Strachan says the experience was rewarding.
“Anytime I get to talk about my research I get really excited. Project SCORE is really close to my heart,” Strachan says, smiling. “I feel blessed that they wanted me to speak and share with them.”
The SCORE project was developed in 2011 to teach kids positive psychosocial skills by using sport as a platform—but to be deliberate in the approach.
“My favourite saying in this field is ‘skills are taught, not caught.’ We can’t assume things in sport. We have to be more deliberate in what we want to teach—just as we would when teaching physical skills,” Strachan adds.
“This helps kids find the connection of how what they’re learning in sport will help them in life, school, and family.”
While she admits visiting the Middle East was never on her bucket list, Strachan says she would go back to Bahrain in “a heartbeat.”
“The most hospitable people I’ve ever met. Very generous, friendly and warm,” Strachan says.