Coaches see salaries soar... by entire euro!

Peep Pahv
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In the fall, culture minister Indrek Saar said the children and youth coaches getting state support to salaries would see the fund thereof boosted by ten percent. Afterwards, it rose to 13.5 percent. Oh the joy in coaches as, with the small wages, every euro helps.  

Exactly… because, as the money was divided, it surfaced that for every coach working at maximal load the state support was boosted by €1. Others get less. The reason being that ranks of coaches getting the grant grew.  

«Last year the applications numbered 1,032. This year it was 1,202 and of these 1,193 qualified,»  explained Toomas Tõnise, founder of Spordikoolituse ja -Teabe SA. The foundation dealing with sports training and information was handling the applications.

«Initially we calculated that we’d need €4.6m to pay the grants, but actually the sum total was €5.5m,» explained Mr Tõnise. The state ended up allotting €3,967,029. That is a €400,000 increase year-on-year but still way less than needed. Therefore, a coefficient of 0.7509 had to be applied to divide the pot.

University of Tartu sports club head Harry Lemberg admitted that instead of the grants rising, the numbers of coaches as recipients grew. «The whole subject was poorly communicated,» said Mr Lemberg. «Better to have said to begin with that we are not talking wage rise.»

Olympic champion and founder of own athletics school Erki Nool has detected a problem in some coaches applying for the grant via multiple organisations. «Accidentally, perhaps?» asked the former parliamentarian Mr Nool who has written thereof to the ministry and to Mr Tõnise – not answered as at yesterday.

To Postimees, Mr Tõnise said that up to 70 coaches are getting grants thru several organisations. He sees a solution in setting maximum working hours at 36.

Mr Lemberg shrugs off the nonexistent wage rise by observing Estonia is a poor place and essentially we are just redistributing the poverty.

«The state support changes nothing as all the money goes back to the state as taxes anyway,» he noted.

Mr Tõnise sees a positive that the grants did not drop but stayed basically the same.

While Estonia features 3,436 qualified coaches, not all may apply for state support as over half are of overly low qualification. The rules say that to qualify, one must be at level 5 as minimum.

The maximum sum receivable is €390 a month. For that, a coach must work at maximal load of 24 academic hours. As another condition, employer of the coach must add an at least equal sum.

In the interest of Estonian sports, better to rise the numbers of highly qualified coaches. On the other hand, it may increasingly eat into the sum allotted by the state.

«In the future, we might increasingly tie it to the level, so that level 6 gets more than 5, and 7 even more,» thinks Mrs Tõnise.

* The author of article is level 5 coach.