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Podcast: 'Sport for a Better World?’ a Commonwealth research symposium

2 June 2017

Leading researchers and participants behind a new research project, ‘Sport for a Better World?’, which looks at the impact of sport as a tool for development and peace, took part in a Commonwealth Symposium during which they shared highlights and provided examples of their work.

“At the end of the day it comes down to promoting caring relationships and high expectations and getting kids involved,” says Dr Kim Scott, one of the research participants, who leads the Child Resiliency Programme in Jamaica which uses sport and cultural arts to build the confidence and resilience of underprivileged and vulnerable young people.

“It’s so very simple,” she says, “and yet so profound in terms of what actually makes a difference.”

The ‘Sport for a Better World?’ research project looks into national approaches which adopt sport as a tool for promoting development, peace, human rights and social justice. The study which focused on five countries - Jamaica, Kosovo, Rwanda, Sri Lanka and Zambia - is a joint initiative of Loughborough University and the University of Toronto, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council.

The research focused on a comparative examination of how the SDP sector is constructed in each of the locations, the nature of SDP programmes and user experiences. Its findings will be published by the Commonwealth Secretariat, adding to the body of research which demonstrate the impact that sport can make to development.  

The research team consisted of Professor Richard Giulianotti, Dr Holly Collison and Dr P David Howe from Loughborough University and Dr Simon Darnell from the University of Toronto.

Commonwealth Symposium

The audience at the Commonwealth symposium on 23 May 2017 included leading academics, government representatives, practitioners and funders as well as representatives from High Commissions.

“This was a social scientific research project of the Sport for Development and Peace (SDP) sector in five locations,” explained lead researcher, Professor Giulianotti. "The key research themes being human rights, disability and peace.”  

In presenting their findings the research team highlighted that in many instances the connection between local SDP programmes and global funders and advocates was stronger than local networking and collaboration. In response Professor Giulianotti recommends that National Action Plans should be pursued more vigorously.  

‘The key player in the SDP sector’

According to Professor Giulianotti, “for national government to contribute more fully and consciously on SDP policy would be something that would be of benefit to the sector and for the impact of the work that goes on in these NGOs.”

“In terms of intergovernmental organisations [supporting this process], the Commonwealth Secretariat is the key player in the SDP sector,” he added.

Gender and SDP

Gender issues were a key theme that emerged through the research, and which were discussed during the symposium. Engaging women and girls as participants, coaches and in managerial roles was identified as a way to challenge social norms on gender and provide an opportunity for young girls and women to feel empowered and confident.

Social and cultural pressures on women however often prevent participation and led to significant drop off in sports participation after childhood. To maximise the impact of SDP policy and programmes on advancing gender equality, the research team recommended better collaboration between SDP and non-sport stakeholders involved in gender equality, education, health and human rights work, and for SDP actors to undertake a deeper examination of the cultural and social structures impacting women and girls’ participation.

Listen to the presentations from the Symposium:

Project Reflections and Report



Research team: Dr David Howe, Dr Holly Collison, Dr Simon Darnell, Professor Richard Giulianotti

Voices from the Field (Part One)



The Child Resiliency Programme: an intervention for reducing community Violence - Kim Scott, Jamaica

Sport for the inter-ethnic dialogue and social inclusion in Kosovo - Ana Larderet, Kosovo

Peace building through sport: open fun football schools - Sanjie Krasniqi, Aferdita Fazlija, Kosovo

Voices from the Field (Part Two)



Sports for Rural Empowerment – Kushil Gunaskera, Sri Lanka

Rwanda: Peace process through sport programme – Eric Murangwa, Rwanda

Together for a Better 2030 and Beyond – Joseph Daka, Zambia