Virtus Announces The Launch Of The Virtus Academy Scientific Committee (VASCOM)

Virtus – the International Federation for sport for athletes with intellectual impairment – will enhance its research and scientific arm this month with the launch of its newly formed Scientific Committee. The VASCOM is part of the new Virtus Academy, a global hub for research and education to drive the development of elite sport for athletes with intellectual impairment and will meet for the first time in June 2021 where the main topic on the agenda will be to set the research agenda and the priorities for the next four years.
Virtus Academy Manager Debbie Van Biesen says she is truly delighted with the VASCOM and how it will serve to the growth of Virtus as an organisation. “Our aim is to grow the scientific knowledge available and ensure that activities and sport practice are delivered in an evidence-based way”.
Six newly appointed academics and practitioners, drawn from universities and research institutions across the world, will join the VASCOM, bringing a unique set of expertise together to serve Virtus athletes and coaches optimizing their health and performance. Continuous emphasis will be given on how strategies can be enhanced to disseminate scientific knowledge into coach and athlete education.
Nick Parr, Virtus Executive Director added “We are honored with the fact that six renowned researchers accepted our invitation to become VASCOM members. Virtus will be able to grow as an organisation relying on the excellent mix of men and women with different backgrounds, representing our various regions, all having a record of high-quality research in the field of sport for athletes with an intellectual impairment and coaching”.

Additional topics that will be discussed in VASCOM include research proposals on relevant fields of research for Virtus, and strategies on how to attract funding (e.g., performance enhancement, inclusion and diversity, competition opportunities during and after COVID-19, athlete health and mental health, and classification and eligibility).The VASCOM members include:

  • Dr. Sean Healy – Associate Professor of Community Health the Community Health Academic Group (CHAG) at the School of Nursing, Psychotherapy and Community Health at Dublin City University, Ireland
  • Dr. Suzie Lemmey – Senior Clinical Psychologist at Kent and Medway NHS and Social Care Partnership Trust
  • Dr. Rob Townsend – Senior Lecturer in Sport Coaching and Pedagogy at the Huataki Waiora School of Health at the University of Waikato
  • Dr. Piet Boer – NRF-rated researcher associated at the Department of Human Movement Science at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology, Wellington, South Africa
  • Prof. Jan Burns MBE – Professor of Clinical Psychology at Canterbury Christ Church University, UK
  • Dr. Debbie Van Biesen – Virtus Academy Manager and post-doctoral researcher at KU Leuven (Belgium)
A full profile of each member can be found on the Virtus Academy website launching soon.