The public sector have invested heavily in sport as a means of contributing to Governments inclusion objectives as part of an evolving sector commonly known as ‘sport for development’.
Doll- Tepper (2006) notes that long-term success in this field depends on communication and cooperation between stakeholders, involving community, parents, sports clubs, schools, practitioners, researchers, and policy-makers. With this in mind Crabbe (2006) promotes the potential of the academic community to contribute to the sport for development debate through the ‘application of theory to practice’, which requires collaboration and a mechanism for knowledge transfer.
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The Sport for Peace project aimed to build lasting relationships through sport encouraging people to become fully engaged in activities not normally associated with their community background, while using sport as a medium to educate and facilitate social inclusion.
The programme brought together three organisations to manage the delivery: Ulster University led the project providing research grounding, capacity building adult education and practical delivery; a cluster of local councils identified local need, existing activity and policy; and local sports and community groups were empowered to establish a legacy in the area.
A menu of activities and a timetable for delivery were designed based on considerations of the practice, policy and research context identified during a six month consultation with key stakeholders and target groups. With core elements of: young people (schools programme); Women, Ethnic minorities and community leaders, these were based on a three step approach of engagement (introductory activities), empowerment (capacity building and collaborative activities) and legacy (future planning activities).
The menu of choices allowed local stakeholders and participants to choose initiatives that would be locally sensitive to meet the need. The most successful events during the project were those organized with the local stakeholders to compliment existing activity, resulting in more participants, removal of barriers to participants and a greater emphasis on good relations.
Three main themes were developed within the adult education element– Engagement, Empowerment and Legacy.
The Engagement theme involved awareness raising training, designed to dispel myths, develop understanding and establish an environment of trust from which to build at an individual and community level.
The Empowerment theme created a pathway for individuals to take part in a range of activities designed to challenge attitudes and build capacity, providing opportunities for involvement at a participant, coach, volunteer, official or project manage level.
The third theme Legacy, attempted to establish a framework for the continuation of the project or evidence need for future projects through bespoke adult education and mentoring to building lasting relationships and frameworks for future delivery. The process created a sense of ownership and increased local engagement across a range of service delivery.
Numerous comparable examples where sport is used to tackle social and health related issues exist. Research suggests that sport must be complimented by a range of other activities to create societal effects. (Coalter 2007, Crabbe 2010 and Sugden 2006). The importance of a bottom up approach is evident, involving those who will take part in the projects within the planning, implementation and delivery, in these circumstances sport can engage and facilitate change as part of a holistic approach that is sensitive and tailored to the political, economic and socio-cultural context, while providing a legacy beyond the initial funding. Building these structures takes time and trust but most of all agreement on common and individual objectives as well as a clear agreed definition of the issues to be addressed.
The sport for peace project was designed to address targets of all stakeholders involved; the detailed consultation with all groups involved in the sector ensured the public sector (Councils, Government and Peace Funding), the University and local community each had the opportunity to input into the design while establishing a better understanding of each others needs. During the implementation regular meetings where held with both a steering group and an advisory group with regional and local representatives from all stakeholders and participants this ensured immediate changes could be made to address new developments at a local and regional level while building on the understanding between groups.
You can find out more about the research and project outcomes by downloading the resource ‘Sport for development Cross Sector Collaborations: A review of collaborations in Sport for Development’ by clicking the link here.
/epale/en/file/kyle-ferguson-jpgKyle Ferguson .jpg
Kyle Ferguson works in the School of Sport at Ulster University, responsible for the Centre for Sports Enterprise. He was Project Manager for the North East Sport for Peace Project and is currently a Board Member of Sport NI. His research focuses on the role of sport in the community and he brings sporting experience across grassroots, community development and performance to the Board, as well as financial oversight skills. Kyle is a Chartered Fellow of the Chartered Management Institute and Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. He has managed a range of European wide project across sports innovation, sport and social inclusion and physical activity.