Sports Students as Mentors for Boys and Young Men

The SSaMs project has an aim of improving boys and young men’s educational attainment and preventing early school leaving via an innovative approach which mixes gender-sensitive mentoring and sports.

Why a focus on boys and young men?

Across the EU the rate of early school leaving is considerably higher amongst boys than girls in most countries. A lack of, or poor qualifications can have an impact across the lifespan of boys and young men on: 

  • Social mobility
  • Employment opportunities
  • Health outcomes
  • A correlation with offending behaviours 

In this context, SSaMs represents one of the few initiatives in the EU targeted exclusively at boys and young men; it is unique in that it is based on sports and uses a gender-sensitive, strengths-based mentoring approach to work with young males.

Why sports students
as mentors?

Mentoring is an effective non-formal method of engaging young people to improve academic attainment.

In some EU countries, sports students and sports personnel work with boys and young men on health and social concerns in schools and non-formal education settings via professional sports clubs ‘sport in the community’ schemes; however there is no existing course for sports students that provides a foundation for this work.

SSaMs intends to provide future sports coaches with the knowledge and skills required to work effectively with young males in supportive education, health, and social contexts.


“SSaMs – Training Sports Students as Mentors to Improve the Educational Attainment of Boys and Young Men” aim is to assist in reducing early school leaving amongst young males.
To achieve this, we will develop a Higher Education Institute course to:

Enhance the knowledge

and skills of undergraduate sports students with regard to work with young males

Enable sport students

to provide mentoring support in future vocational settings involving work with young males to motivate them to stay at school

The course will also instruct sports students on support for young men’s mental and emotional health as an issue affecting educational performance.


  • To enhance knowledge and skills of undergraduate sports students to enable them to provide mentoring support for boys and young men who are underachieving at school;
  • To assist in reducing Early School Leaving (ESL) amongst boys and young men;
  • To support the engagement of HEIs with local communities and further integrate with local education and informal youth and community education schemes;
  • To provide a foundation for further work with boys and young men and complement existing academic work among HEIs partners.


  • Development of a needs analysis on gendered mentoring and work on ESL addressed to HEIs offering degrees within Faculties of Sport and Exercise;
  • Elaboration, piloting and evaluation of gender specific SSaMs Learning Material to inform sport students how to mentor young men and provide gender sensitive support on ESL;
  • Creation of the SSaMs Train the Trainer Materials;
  • Development of the SSaMs Project and Pilot Evaluation Report.
Young sports trainers to contrast school dropout

Young sports trainers to contrast school dropout

Sport has a strong educational value for young people and represents a valid way to promote the social inclusion and health of disadvantaged young people. Statistical data on early school leaving in the Europe Union show how young men are more affected by this...