On November 2nd and 3rd, we attended this year’s Petro-Canada Sport Leadership Sportif conference (#SLS23). The theme was ‘Mental Health Is Our Sport,’ and focused on bringing to light awareness about the mental health of coaches, participants, athletes, and sports leaders.
Did you know that 5 to 35 percent of elite athletes (athletes competing at the professional, Olympic, or collegiate level) reported experiencing mental health symptoms in a given year? Mental health in sports is a crucial and increasingly important topic of discussion. Athletes face unique pressures, including intense competition, performance expectations and the physical toll of their sport. These pressures can affect their mental well-being.
In 2021, Canadian gymnast Ellie Black commented that “we are all just human, just regular people. We train at the highest level; we compete at the highest level. Sometimes you feel like you have the weight of the world on your shoulders. There is a lot of expectation and pressure.” Her comments were made following the news that Simone Biles a four-time Olympic gold medalist, withdrew from the all-around athletic gymnastics final at the Tokyo Olympics due to her struggles with her mental health. This incident was one of many reasons highlighting the importance of speaking about mental health in the field of sports.
The aim of the Sports Leadership Sportif conference was not only to highlight the importance of speaking about mental health in sports but also to strengthen leadership in the Canadian sports system with the following objectives:
- Educate delegates through collaborative and quality breakout sessions with tangible take-away skills
- Inspire delegates with topical and respected keynote speakers
- Unite colleagues from sports organizations and energize and broaden potential networks of interest
- Recognize and celebrate Canada’s top coaches at the Petro-Canada Sport Leadership Awards Gala
The 2023 Sports Leadership Sportif Conference was an overall insightful event, that provided us with the opportunity to learn, spend time with our valued partners and clients, as well as meet so many new amazing acquaintances.
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