Fully-funded PhD Studentship: Developing Inclusive Coaching and Coach Education in New Zealand

Start date: October 2022.

BACKGROUND: Te Huataki Waiora School of Health at the University of Waikato is building a reputation as the national leader for research into disability sport. Sport New Zealand’s Disability Plan represents a commitment to improving the wellbeing of disabled New Zealanders by addressing inequalities in play, active recreation and sport. The Disability Plan reinforces that disabled people have a right to choose to participate in sport and active recreation, and outlines the need for equitable access, consistent delivery and accessible programmes.

This research programme was developed through partnership between Sport New Zealand the University of Waikato. The partnership was developed to broadly capture and respond to the priorities of the sector and Sport New Zealand, while making an enduring contribution to scholarship in disability sport. Candidates are expected to demonstrate an understanding of disability sport and active recreation in New Zealand as well as a commitment to partnership within the disability sport sector.

Join us for this unique opportunity to make a positive difference to the lives of disabled people. We are looking for an exceptional candidate to contribute to a vibrant research community, be active in supporting teaching and learning opportunities across the school and engage in knowledge translation activities with community partners.

PROJECT BRIEF: Coaches play a crucial role in supporting disabled peoples’ access to and engagement in high-quality sporting experiences. In 2018 an independent review into the disability sport and active recreation sector outlined the need to upskill coaches to deliver better opportunities for disabled people. The review highlighted that an important mechanism for improving coaches’ capability for inclusion is the delivery of optimal professional development (e.g., coach education) to support practitioners.

This collaborative action research project will focus on providing an evidence base that assists in shaping the delivery of disability coach education in New Zealand. The purpose of this project is to develop a framework for implementing a disability-specific coach education programme and associated resources across the disability sport sector, ensuring that disability is infused into the culture of coach education in Aotearoa New Zealand.

The specific aims of this programme of research are: 1) assess the current standard of coach learning and development opportunities related to disability; 2) identify the education and support needs of coaches operating across a number of disability contexts, including working with participants with physical, intellectual and sensory impairments; 3) determine effective methods for supporting coaches’ learning in relation to disability and inclusive practice. 

CONTACT: Primary Supervisor: Dr. Robert Townsend, University of Waikato. Robert.townsend@waikato.ac.nz


  • Postgraduate degree (Masters) desirable.
  • Domestic and international
  • Full-time, 3 years.


  • Curriculum Vitae
  • 2 Academic References
  • Link to a three-minute video pitch about the candidate and why this area of research interests them.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s