Seals of Quality in the sports field on the rise
The Sports Quality Seals have become a quality management tool in the sports field, providing prestige to the entities and organizations that choose to adhere to this recognition and pass the certification processes. In this sense, they become a strategy of constant improvement for the professionalization of the sports sector, seeking excellence and the generation of value in its different fields of action.
The sports field is a sector in constant growth, where new trends and possible lines of action allow a professionalization and consolidation of the sector through the search for constant improvement. For this reason, more and more organizations are promoting the creation of quality seals in the sports framework, intending to recognize and seek excellence in a particular line of work. These seals are more specific according to the sports field beyond the existing generic certifications such as ISO certifications, seeking specificity from a technical-sports perspective. Within the driving organizations, one can find:
- International federations
- National federations
- Public sector organizations
- Sports associations
- Professional associations
The certification process for obtaining the Quality Seals is subject to reference documentation, specific in each case, where the bases and requirements established for the correct fulfilment of the standards proposed by each entity promoting the certification are determined. Compliance with the requirements during the certification process and, therefore, obtaining the Quality Seal offers identity features to the applicant organizations:
- Certification of compliance with quality standards
- Positioning in the sector
- Pursuit of internal excellence in the specific field of accreditation
- Added value
- Commitment to continuous improvement
The dimension of the different Quality Seals is varied, becoming in some cases certifications for very specific topics and in others, where the scope of action has a more general character. In all cases, the offer of this resource is evidence of the professionalization and continuous improvement of the sector, allowing the organizations and the different sports agents involved in the process to guarantee the quality of the sports system. In this sense, it is worth highlighting the most important steps for the creation of quality seals.
The organization promoting the Quality Seal identifies a field of action in which other entities and institutions in the sector may be interested in pursuing excellence. Thus, the objective in this first phase is to offer a product to interested institutions, so that they can generate value in a specific line of work and, in this way, obtain a prestigious position by obtaining the Quality Seal.
2. Audit phase
Once the interested entities have pre-registered and are therefore part of the certification process to obtain the Quality Seal, the audit process begins. First, a pilot test is carried out to consolidate all the steps of the process. This is subject to the reference regulations for each sector, through which the bases and essential requirements for obtaining the Quality Seal will be established.
This pilot test will be useful to identify the most relevant points of the process, the communication with the requesting entities, the resources needed for each task, as well as the methodology and follow-up implemented during the audit. Thus, the pilot test allows establishing a diagnosis of the situation of the process through the detection of the characteristics identified in each phase. The communication component is important in this implementation phase. In this regard, it is worth noting two important types of communication during the process:
- Internal communication: the audit team's own. Throughout the process, the people performing the audits must maintain fluid communication, considering the situation of each audited entity and the processes to be carried out at all times. The scheduling of actions, tasks to be performed and resources identified for each phase of the process are essential elements in the audit.
- External communication: refers to the communication and promotion actions developed based on the product, i.e., the fact of giving visibility and reaching potential entities that may be interested in obtaining the Quality Seal. These actions can be commercial to encourage the adherence of the centers in the process, or also to give visibility to specific actions. For example, the presentation of the centers that have passed the certification process can be included in this communication phase.
3. Monitoring and evaluation
The implementation phase ends now when the audits are considered as closed and, therefore, the review by the audit team regarding possible pending amendments (if the process calls for it) has also ended. The evaluation and follow-up phase then begins, which is essential to ensure optimal communication with the requesting entities, considering their needs and possible clarifications. It should be noted that during the audit phase it is also important to maintain contact with the different entities, but it is during the evaluation phase when this is of paramount importance.
Thus, during the evaluation, communication is made regarding the aptitude of the organizations, considering the audit process for obtaining the Quality Seal. This process is carried out through a resolution report, individualized for each applicant entity and in reference to its actions during the certification process.
To be considered
In the different phases described above, relevant aspects come into play that act transversally and are indispensable for guaranteeing optimum quality during the certification process.
First, the importance of objectivity throughout the process by the audit team must be emphasized. It is necessary to implement the requirements that are subject to the regulations in question, in the same way for all participating entities and apply standardized, previously defined criteria.
It is also worth mentioning the relevance of the rigorousness implemented. Establishing processes during the audits that allow a follow-up and control when applying the requested requirements is essential to unify criteria and extend the methodology for future editions of the process.
Finally, it is necessary to keep in mind the resources needed to carry out the audit and follow-up process, both financial and human. The pilot test can become a good way to identify the state of resources for each of the phases.
Continuing with the previous framework, the following are some of the leading organizations in the sports sector that have opted for the creation of a specific Quality Seal, with the aim of establishing recognition for the organizations and centers for which it is intended and offering a distinctive element and excellence in a specific field of action.
Royal Spanish Football Federation - Coaching School - Seal of Quality in the training of soccer and futsal coaches and trainers
The Royal Spanish Football Federation has launched the Seal of Quality in the training of soccer and futsal coaches and trainers, for those entities, companies and associations that develop soccer training programs. The certification seeks to value the training concerning the quality standards set by UEFA in this area. In this sense, the Royal Spanish Football Federation offers two types of Seal: Premium and Standard.
Royal Spanish Canoe Federation - Quality Seal for the competitive improvement of canoeing in Spain
This Quality Seal is aimed at organizations dedicated to the teaching, practice, and promotion of Spanish canoeing. Compliance with the criteria established in the certification process accredits that the organization has a minimum standard of quality service to the public. The main lines of action are structured in the management of the activity, safety, environmental aspects, maintenance of the facilities, infrastructure, and equipment.
Spanish Sports Association, Superior Sports Council and Olympic Committee - Sporttoury: Quality seal for hotel establishments for sports tourism
It is a Quality Seal aimed at tourist accommodations that will have to meet a series of basic requirements, such as having their own sports facilities or annexes that can be used to practice sports. In this way, users will be able to know which accommodations offer physical activity, considering 3 categories: Basic, Excellent and Premium.
COPLEFC – The Association of Physical Activity and Sports Professionals in Catalonia - Seal of Quality of the Catalan Sports System
The Association of Physical Activity and Sports Professionals in Catalonia has promoted the Quality Seal for the Catalan Sports System, through which the quality of the sports system in all its aspects can be accredited:
- Active municipality: addressed to the City Councils
- Sports facilities: aimed at the different types of sports facilities
- Professional sports services: aimed at companies or self-employed professionals
Soon the Quality Seals will also be promoted for the following specific areas:
- Sports entities
- Municipal sports management
- Active educational centers
- Sports events
FIFA - Quality seal for competition balls
In the framework of the renewal of the Quality Program for Soccer Balls, FIFA has introduced new Quality Seals: FIFA Quality PRO, FIFA Quality and IMS: International Match Standard. The aim is to standardize FIFA's Quality programs, seeking quality, safety and reliability at all times.