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Jacqueline Patatas

Doctoral researcher, Researchers


Jacqueline Patatas graduated in Physical Education in 2008 (Federal University of Uberlandia UFU/Brazil), in 2012 she obtained a Master’s degree in Adapted Physical Activity from the State University of Campinas UNICAMP/Brazil. From 2015-2019, Jacqueline was a doctoral researcher at the research group Sport & Society (SASO) at the department of Sport Policy and Management of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB), in Belgium. She has long-term involvement and experience in the area of physical activity and sports for people with disabilities, with extensive experience in Paralympic sport administration and event management. She integrated for four years the Brazilian Paralympic Committee’s team working in the Sports Department as the Brazilian Paralympic Academy and Classification manager and she was part of the Rio 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games Organizing Committee. In her doctoral research, Jacqueline focused on the factors influencing the development of Paralympic athletes and the appropriate development of tailored Para sport pathways, from the attraction to the sport to high-performance levels. More specifically, her research opened a dialogue in the sport policy literature approaching the SPLISS framework and its applicability in the Para sport context. As a Postdoctoral researcher, Jacqueline contributed to the UNESCO Chair research centre in Ireland in developing and implementing a training methodology to build capacity to promote inclusion of people with disabilities in and through sports. Jacqueline is a social scientist who is broadly interested in the relationship between sport and disability, particularly, examining how athletes with impairment are introduced to the sport and how do the different types of impairments influence the development of Para sport athlete pathways and talent identification processes. She has published several articles on these topics in journals such as Adapted Physical Activity Quarterly, Sport Management Review, Sport in Society, International Journal of Sport Policy and Politics. Currently, Jacqueline is integrating research and practice as the Wheelchair Rugby Program Manager for the British Columbia Wheelchair Sports Association in Canada.


Vrije Universiteit Brussel
Pleinlaan 2
1050 Brussels


PhD Title: Sports System and Policy Factors Influencing Athletic Career Pathways in Paralympic Sports

Institution: Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB)
Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Veerle De Bosscher (Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Belgium)


There has been an increasing interest among nations to win medals in major international competitions. This trend has stimulated researchers to better understand elite sport policy development. Effective elite sport policy will advance the creation of successful elite athlete pathways. Literature on the subject has increasingly examined and delineated what defines successful sport systems that can deliver successful able-bodied elite athletes. The potential of the Paralympic sport system and athletes with an impairment, however, has been underexplored. Further, literature on what comprises athletic career pathways in Paralympic sports, as well as the support services that bolster the development of Para sport athletes, are surprisingly limited. By using Brazil as a case, this doctoral research aimed to examine the various factors influencing the development of athletic career pathways in Paralympic sport, including sports policies, support services, stakeholders, and contextual factors. To address this aim, a mixed-methods approach was adopted, and six studies, in total, form the body of this doctoral research. Study 1 served as the basis for a preliminary investigation in which sport policy approaches were analysed in order to identify fundamental differences between able-bodied and Para sport systems. Study 2 aimed to identify how the phases of athletic career pathways in Paralympic sport could be developed. The results identified six distinct phases and their unique characteristics (i.e., attraction, retention, competition, talent identification and development, elite, and retirement). Study 3 aimed to identify which sport policy factors and stakeholders influence the development of each phase of athletic career pathways in Paralympic sport using the social relational model of disability as a means of critically positioning disability within the sporting context. Study 4 used the lens of the systems theory as a helpful tool for understanding how systems or policies, at the level of inputs, throughputs, and outputs, continuously interact with the economic, social, cultural, and political components of the culture and environment of a country. Study 5 aimed to analyse how Para sport athletes in Brazil progress through the developmental phases of an athletic career pathway by comparing differences in their trajectories based on the nature of the impairment (acquired [AI] or congenital [CI]), age, and sex. Study 6 concluded this doctoral research by further investigating, from the athletes’ perspectives, the quality and importance of the sport policy and support services that Brazilian Para athletes have received across their athletic career pathways. The para-athletes confirmed the perspective of the stakeholders and a total of 21 items were deemed important for the development of successful athletic career pathways in Brazil. Finally, this doctoral research offered an initial conceptual framework encompassing factors on micro-meso-macro levels with a description of phases of athletic career pathways in Paralympic sport from which both practitioners and researchers can base their actions for policy development and implementation towards Para athlete development. This research unfolded the complexity and individuality of athletic development in Paralympic sports. Several impairment-specific factors are essential ingredients when developing Para sport athlete career pathways, such as the classification system, the nature of the impairment, an early or late start in the sport, previous sports experiences, and the severity of the impairment. Overall, tailormade policy actions considering the impairment-specific factors in the foundation may provide a basis for competitive advantage by delivering more talented athletes for selection into elite sport.


PhD in a nutshell

Find out more about Jackie's PhD in this short video:



For her work on "Sports System and Policy Factors infleuncing Athletic Career Pathways in Paralympic Sports", Jackie has received the award for Best PhD Dissertation in Sport Management.
She has been granted the award by the the Brazilian Association for Sport Management. 


Podcast - Sport Management Review Insights: Interview with Jacqueline about the development of elite Para athlete careers.
In this episode of the Sport Management Review podcast, Jackie Patatas discussed the article published about the development and implementation of sport policy in Paralympic sport: "Managing Parasport: An investigation of sport policy factors and stakeholders influencing para-athletes’ career pathways".
Check the podcast on Spotify  OR Google