3, 2, 1… Go! A long time of thorough preparation is over. This month, STARTING 11 saw its first project meeting in Amsterdam (The Netherlands).

The Topsport Academy Amsterdam (TAA) of the project coordinator Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences served as the optimal location for our kick off. The TAA offers elite athletes the opportunity to successfully combine their sporting career with university courses of their choice.

After an introductory round of all partners, the first crucial aspects of our project design were presented. A seemingly slow start quickly turned into two intense days of brainstorming, debating and planning the next steps.

First things first: needs assessment

‍In the form of mini groups, the European demand for dual career implementation support and, thus, STARTING 11, was concretized. The identification of target group criteria for our upcoming needs assessment (research phase) as well as its methodology were disputed.

The outcome? A research triangle consisting of a literature review, focus group interviews with selected European athletes and an extensive EU-wide online survey will serve to identify the type of tools primarily required by dual career stakeholders. TASS will take over the respective work package lead. The project aims to first present its research results at the EAS Conference 2019 in Falun, Sweden.

Initial thoughts on toolkit design

‍Next to the needs assessment, the project consortium also initiated their work on the toolkit creation. Designing such a toolkit is a comprehensive task that requires detailed planning and careful consideration to meet the exact needs of the target group. Each of the envisaged service areas of our toolkit (Manage, Train and Counsel) shall entail a set of tools that complement each other.

Simultaneously, every tool should also be independently applicable. This underlying principle would ensure that systems at different stages and levels of dual career implementation are able to utilize the tools according to their individual requirements. Closing the first meeting, we are ready to get down to work.