Sport and development

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Helpdesk Query:

What are the key success factors and key barriers of sport for development interventions contributing to educational inclusion, social cohesion, HIV prevention, gender equality and stigma/discrimination against people with disabilities?


Some individual studies noted factors for success and what did not work well. However, there was not enough evidence to get a synthesis on barriers and enablers to sport for development in general. Often programmes in the literature were described but rarely evaluated. Where they were evaluated, specific features contributing to success or otherwise were not identified. The few examples where barriers and enablers are discussed are noted in sections 3 and 4 respectively.

In a mass participation programme in South Africa, Siyadlala, lack of facilities was found to have a negative effect on social cohesion (Burnett, 2009). Sugden (2006) notes that the competitive nature of sport does have the potential to aggravate already disparate groups. Difficulties are also noted in bringing people together when there are language barriers, in this case Jewish and Arab children in northern Israel. The project was also “criticised for being patronising, neoimperialistic and overly supportive of the Israeli state” (ibid, p238).

Continued participation is a problem. Post-conflict situations can have problems of continuation in leadership also as these situations are in a state of flux by their nature (Armstrong, 2002).

Retaining girls in sports programmes when they reach adolescence is noted to be an issue by Brady and Banu-Khan (2002). Younger girls, described in this case in Kenya, are more allowed to “act like tomboys” (ibid, p13) and at puberty girls are discouraged or forbidden to engage in sport.


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