Kiira Korpi, figure skater
“It’s great that the figure skating world is finally beginning to talk about children’s rights. Without human rights, sport is neither sustainable nor valuable. Awareness of issues has increased, but there’s still lots of work to be done. It’s not enough for a sports club to have fancy texts on children’s rights in their rules on their website; the principles have to be put into practice.
An essential issue in sport is whether you’re coaching children, or people of any age, primarily through fear or through encouragement and motivation. Children’s rights are also breached if adults force children to train excessively, or to train when ill or injured. Luckily, we’re slowly beginning to understand that compromising an athlete’s wellbeing does not lead to better performance. Everything should be based around good mental wellbeing for the athlete. It’s time to dispel the myth that training isn’t rigorous enough if the athlete is relaxed or having fun.
In figure skating, parents and coaches have lots of responsibility, as skaters are often young, all the way up to highly competitive levels. It’s also important for children and young people to know their rights and to dare to speak up if an adult or sports body is treating them unfairly.”