Recent Articles

Preparing for long-term success: Sport for Development’s strategies during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Every individual across the globe has been, and continues to be, impacted by the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. Sport for Development (SfD) is a field of work that relies predominantly on in-person, face-to-face, high contact programming. SfD’s work, therefore, was significantly strained due to social distancing guidelines and stay-at-home orders. This study compiled interviews with administrators in 10 South African based SfD organizations, assessing how they innovated and adjusted to the pandemic, as well as which strategies best helped them successfully manage change. Major findings include a need for collaboration among SfD organizations, a strong focus on creativity and innovation in the field, and a need for organizations to balance structure and flexibility to allow responsiveness to changing needs. These strategies should be integrated as a focus within SfD beyond the pandemic, as they are long-term success strategies that will allow SfD organizations to be prepared for future pivotal decision points in their lifespans.

A follow-up qualitative study: The lived experiences & perceptions of SDP trained youth sport coaches and teachers from Jordan and Tajikistan with using sports to foster a culture for peace

Researchers interviewed 27 youth sport coaches and physical education teachers from Jordan and Tajikistan who previously participated in a sport for development and peace (SDP) train-the-trainer program. The purpose was to gain an understanding of the lived experiences of participants and how they used sports activities in their positions of leadership to foster conditions that conceptually correspond to a culture of positive peace. Using an inductive-coding analysis, researchers identified two main dimensions discussed in this paper: (a) Changes in Everyday Lived Realities and (b) Practical Strategies for Fostering Nonviolence. Participants mentioned changes in their attitudes and behaviors as well as in youth athletes’ attitudes and behaviors on and off the field. New strategies involved peace education, conflict resolution skills, and lessons learned on the field. Findings from this study provide a better understanding of some of the lived experiences of sport coaches and physical education teachers as stakeholders promoting a positive peace years after being trained in SDP work. Implications of the present findings call for supporting SDP stakeholders’ vital involvement in social initiatives that work to address both observable and unobservable factors which threaten to divide youth.

Health interventions as vehicles for increased sport participation for women and girls: Socio-managerial insights from a Netball-for-Development Program in Tonga

Against the background of ever-rising non-communicable disease rates, an area that has received increased attention from sport-for-development practitioners and academics is sport-for-health (SFH). SFH projects attempt to contribute to the development of healthy lifestyle behavior and physically active societies through sport-related programs and interventions. The purpose of this paper was to explore the socio-managerial challenges and opportunities of a netball-based SFH program in Tonga. Based on local focus group and interview data, findings were grouped under five overarching themes: strategic management of volunteer network, sociocultural barriers, public space management, events and tournaments as incentives, and collaboration across local and national sports. In discussing these findings in context, we provide implications for managing culturally sensitive SFH projects in the Pacific region and beyond.

The influence of servant leadership on shared leadership development in Sport for Development

Leadership is critical to the success of sport for development (SFD) organizations that operate in environments characterized by limited resources, growing competition, and blurred institutional boundaries. Previous research has primarily explored the efficacy of different leadership styles within SFD contexts and examined how leadership contributes to key dimensions of organizational capacity, performance, and other related concepts. Servant leadership and shared leadership have emerged as two particularly viable frameworks, yet there remains limited knowledge of how these approaches are developed and related in SFD. The current study is based on surveys from 100 employees of SFD organizations and utilized regression analysis to examine the relationship between salient organizational factors, servant leadership, and shared leadership. Results indicate that after controlling for salient organizational factors, servant leadership explains a significant portion of the variance in shared leadership. The discussion focuses on the theoretical and practical implications of these findings and highlights key areas for future research.

“Learn how to keep going”: Applying strengths perspective and hope theory to girls in CrossFit

This qualitative research relied on in-depth interviews to understand the experiences of at-risk girls who participated in CrossFit. Sports and physical activity-based programs have long been used to address social problems and offer new opportunities for at-risk youth. These programs are often designed keeping the youth in settings with their peers. In this study, four at-risk girls were integrated into traditional CrossFit classes that were more representative of their lived realities, exposing them to participants of different ages, genders, races, and socioeconomic backgrounds. We combined the strengths perspective and hope theory to examine their experiences. Our findings demonstrated that integrated fitness programs can help at-risk girls achieve successful outcomes. This research also underscored the utility of combining the strengths perspective with hope theory, as we found that hope was an essential element that allowed the girls to realize their inherent strengths and to apply these strengths to other aspects of their lives.

Nominations Open For 2022 JSFD Early Career Scholar Award

We are pleased to announce the third annual call for nominations for the “JSFD Early Career Scholar Award,” to be awarded to an early career JSFD author in recognition of significant scholarly contributions to the sport for development field. The winner of the award will be recognized online and in a newsletter shared with all JSFD followers.

Volume 9, Issue 2 published

The Journal of Sport for Development (JSFD) is pleased to announce the publication of the second issue of the journal’s ninth volume

The influence of peers on life skill development and transfer in a sport-based positive youth development program

Sport-based positive youth development (PYD) programs are recognized as important contexts for promoting life skill development and transfer, especially among socially vulnerable youth. Past research has examined the role of social agents (e.g., coaches, staff, parents) in life skill development and transfer. Although peers are identified as a critical social agent in sport-based PYD contexts, little English-speaking literature has examined the influence of peers on youth’s life skill outcomes. This study examines multiple peer influences contributing to life skill outcomes among 483 youth involved in a sport-based PYD program. Cohen’s d demonstrated improved self-control, effort, teamwork, social competence, and transfer of learning outcomes from pre- to post-program. Using a series of hierarchical linear regression models, results demonstrate the degree of life skills among peers in one’s group, the youth’s relative life skills within their group, and the number of friends in one’s group predicted life skills scores at posttest after controlling for pretest scores and demographics. These findings point to the importance of peers as significant social influences contributing to youth’s life skill outcomes in a sport-based PYD program. Sport practitioners can intentionally promote youth development through facilitated group processing, optimal peer group composition, and autonomy supportive staff practices.

“It makes me want to take more steps”: Racially and economically marginalized youth experiences with and perceptions of Fitbit Zips® in a sport-based youth development program

Healthy and high levels of physical activity can positively impact youth development, physiological and psychosocial well-being, academic performance, and reduce the risks of obesity, cardiovascular disease, and other chronic illnesses. Various health and physical activity interventions have started to engage with wearable technologies (e.g., Fitbit®) to objectively measure and manage levels of physical activity, for both academics and practitioners alike. The purpose of this study is to explore the potential utility of digital activity trackers, and the subsequent experiences of wearing such devices, toward increased engagement with physical activity among racially and economically marginalized youth. To this end, we had 20 youth of color wear a Fitbit Zip® over a 23-week period during their participation in a sport-based youth development program. At the conclusion of 23 weeks, 17 of the students reflected on their experiences by taking part in one of three focus groups. The participants shared predominantly positive experiences with and attitudes toward the devices. While there were some sentiments of indifference, most participants acknowledged increased levels of physical activity and awareness of the resultant health benefits. These results further highlight the potential value of integrating digital activity trackers in sport-based youth development programming and stress the importance of culturally appropriate expectations and training.