On January 31 and February 1, 2019. The EU-funded Dual Career for Women Athletes (DONA) projectkicked off in Istres, France. DONA aims to empower women’s volleyball players by investigating, developing and testing a dual career methodology at club level.
It is coordinated by the Associació Esportiva Carles Vallbona (Spain) and involves the Malta Volleyball Association (Malta), the Scuola di Pallavolo Anderlini Soc. Coop. Sociale SD (Italy), the Associação Aventura com Carisma – Leixoes Sport Club (Portugal), Istres Provence Volleyball (France), the De SportMaatschappij Foundation (Netherlands), the University of Ljubljana (Slovenia), and the European Athlete as Student (EAS) Dual Career Network (Malta).
To cover the several important development stages that encompass relevant changes at academic, athletic, psychological, social and professional levels, DONAtargets arounf 250 female volleyball athletes between 12-20 years old. Upon the development of a dual career methodology, a Dual Career Club Management (DCCM) unit will support and help the players throughout a 3-semester pilot programme, whereas the volleyball clubs will create an optimal DC environment in cooperation with educational institutions.
The ultimate goals of DONA are aimed to:
· decrease female athletes’ dropout from sport clubs;
· prepare athletes from an early age for the different transition periods ahead with developing the needed skills and competences;
· increase the number of professional and elite female volleyball players by retaining talents at clubs and supporting their DC development;
· make young athletes and their families aware that it is possible to aim for both educational and sports career;
· help them finding the right balance between sports and education with providing them the needed support services;
· prepare these athletes for their upcoming challenge to be successful in the change from elite sport to labour market – for the “career after the career”.
Mojca Doupona (EAS Treasurer, University of Ljubljana) and Joerg Foerster (EAS Secretary, German University Sport Federation-adh) represent EAS in the project.