Tag archives for Research 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.

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.

The Contribution of Sport to the Sustainable Development Goals: Insights from Commonwealth Games Associations

The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are hailed as a common language to unite a global commitment towards a change of trajectory regarding social, economic, and environmental development issues. Although not overtly cited within the SDGs or their related targets, sport has been widely accepted and promoted as an enabler of social change and a mechanism through which to strategically map and measure commitments to sustainability. However, despite the numerous case study examples of specific sport-based programs that have demonstrated the potential of sport to contribute to the SDGs, there is limited knowledge about the currency and value that the SDGs hold for key sport stakeholders in development, and a shortage of concrete evidence to assess the uptake and integration at the level of national policy. In an attempt to address this shortage, this paper presents insights from the analysis of secondary data collected by the Commonwealth Games Federation from 62 Commonwealth Games Associations (CGAs) in relation to their perspectives on the contribution of sport to the SDGs. The paper provides examples of specific areas of strength, or those in need of further development, to present a baseline for the current state of play in understanding the contribution from individual CGAs to the SDGs.

Principles-of-action used by an eductrainer to create social bonds through sport in a psychosocial intervention program

This article utilizes the theories of social bond and carnal sociology to analyze the role of the eductrainer in the sport-based intervention program DesÉquilibres. Methodologically, an action research study was carried out with three cohorts of adolescents. Our qualitative data collection was based on (a) interviews with 27 adolescents aged 14 to 17 years (cohorts 1 and 3), (b) a focus group of five eductrainers (paired with cohort 1), and (c) observant participation of cohorts 2 and 3. A thematic analysis revealed four principles-of-action constituting the social bond where risk-taking and its staging play an essential role: (a) a risky proposition to create the social bond, (b) recognition of the adult-in-the-making to anchor the social bond, (c) organization of the risky proposition to scaffold the social bond, and (d) physical commitment of the eductrainer to embody the social bond. Research has shown the potential of risk-taking to create and strengthen social bonds in the context of sports-based interventions.

Exploring the Impact of Soccer Camp on Social Identity for Youth with Cerebral Palsy

Background: The purpose of this study was to explore the impact of an exclusive, residential cerebral palsy (CP) soccer camp on social identity for youth with CP. Using a basic qualitative methods approach, the aim of this study was to explain the six-day CP soccer camp experience from the campers’ perspective, guided by the three processes of Social Identity Theory (SIT), to determine if a CP soccer camp setting impacted the development of the participants’ social identity. Methods: Semi-structured interviews were collected online through video software from 13 participants who were purposefully sampled between the ages of 10-18. Qualitative data was initially analyzed through a deductive coding lens, then further analyzed through an inductive coding process. Results: Findings suggest that participation in an intentionally designed, exclusive, residential CP soccer camp supported two of the three processes in SIT and provided opportunities for youth with CP to feel connected and similar to others with disabilities. Participants enjoyed being around other individuals with CP in a supportive sport environment. Conclusion: This study indicated that CP soccer camp assisted in the campers’ social identity development in two of the three processes of SIT. Future research implications are discussed.

Examining the impact of a sport-based positive youth development program for adolescent girls of color: A mixed methods study

Adolescent girls of color experience systemic and interpersonal risk factors that intersect on the basis of their race, gender, and age. These risks negatively influence their rates of obesity, engagement in physical activity, and overall health and well-being. Sport-based positive youth development (PYD) programs are known to address risks and build protective factors, yet little is known about how these programs specifically impact adolescent girls of color. This mixed method study examines the impact of a sport-based PYD summer camp on the holistic health of adolescent girls of color. We conducted nine qualitative interviews and compared changes in mean scores on pre- and post-camp survey measures for 35 adolescent girls of color. In our findings, we identify underlying program mechanisms and design components that influenced girls’ experiences, participation, and engagement. Further, we describe positive changes reported by girls in relation to their physical, social, psychological, and spiritual health and well-being. We also present an emergent theory of change to serve as a guide for how sport-based PYD programs can be leveraged to address intersectional health and well-being outcomes among adolescent girls of color.

The Americanization of sport for development and peace: Examining American SDP intern experiences

This study expands the Sport for Development and Peace (SDP) research focusing on the impact of national values and ideas on SDP program implementation. As SDP interns are instrumental in implementing many SDP programs, it is important to identify how their national values and ideas affect their work in the field. The purpose of this qualitative study was to examine the experiences of Americans who had worked as SDP interns. Through the lens of Americanization, we examine the reproduction and distribution of values and ideas of American SDP interns working abroad. Semistructured interviews were conducted with 11 former American SDP interns to explore their perspectives and reflections on the work they carried out as American SDP interns. Throughout the interviews, American ideas rooted in neoliberalism, capitalism, and education appeared as conceptual influences that were woven into their SDP internship experience. The findings indicated that, in their role as American SDP interns, the participants were at once complicit in and resistant to reproducing inequitable power relations, constantly wrestling with personal ideologies and American sporting values that did not align with cultural and social norms of the host countries. Implications of this study emphasize the continued need for SDP analyses to identify and critically consider nation-specific values and ideas of SDP workers and their impact on the local implementation of SDP programs.

Youth, “waithood,” and social change: Sport, mentoring, and empowerment in Sub-Saharan Africa

The transition from youth to adulthood in African nations has changed markedly in recent years. Social and economic challenges often lead to the creation of a disengaged and alienated generation struggling to participate actively in society. Drawing on the personalized accounts of a group of youth leaders experiencing such conditions, this paper presents empirical findings from a small-scale qualitative study of one Sport for Development and Peace (SDP) initiative that, through various community-based projects, aims to provide personal, social, and educational support for young people in Mzuzu, a city in northern Malawi. The paper seeks to uncover some of the reasons behind youth disengagement within this particular context and explores how empowerment-based mentoring is used by youth leaders to bring about change in the lives of the young people with whom they work. The paper concludes that amid the wider tensions and anxieties of youth transition in sub-Saharan Africa, strategic and intentional relationship building (through mentoring) can provide a catalyst for personal development, intergenerational connection, and social change.

Volume 8, Issue 15 published (Special Issue)

The Journal of Sport for Development (JSFD) is pleased to announce the publication of its fifteenth issue, a special issue on sport and livelihoods guest edited by Mitchell McSweeney, Sarah Oxford, Ramón Spaaij and Lyndsay M.C. Hayhurst.

“I feel happy when I surf because it takes stress from my mind”: An Initial Exploration of Program Theory within Waves for Change Surf Therapy in Post-Conflict Liberia

Surf therapy is a novel form of sport for development (SFD) intervention being utilized to support well-being within post-conflict settings. There is currently little research exploring surf therapy program theory in SFD contexts. Theoretical exploration is important for optimization, monitoring, and further expansion of service delivery. This research utilized pragmatic qualitative methods to explore participant-perceived impacts and outcomes within the Waves for Change (W4C) surf therapy intervention, as implemented in Harper, Liberia, that aims to support youth well-being. Twenty-three past W4C participants (17 males and 6 females, mean age = 15.8 years, SD = 3.6 years, range 11-25 years) took part in semistructured interviews about their experiences of surf therapy. Data were analyzed through constant comparative analysis. Six impacts and outcomes were identified within three intervention domains: Social, Skills Curriculum/Bananas Culture, and Surfing. The findings highlight sport as an adaptable vehicle for improving well-being and skills within successful intervention delivery while providing a foundation for further in-depth exploration of program theory. Furthermore, the findings provide empirical evidence on how to optimize and proliferate surf therapy within other post-conflict settings. The findings also provide transferable conclusions for the improvement of SFD more generally.

Volume 8, Issue 14 published

The Journal of Sport for Development (JSFD) is pleased to announce the publication of its fourteenth issue.

Conceptualizing participatory evaluation in sport for development: A researcher’s perspective on processes and tensions from Vietnam

Participatory Evaluation (PE) has been adopted as a methodology in Sport for Development (SFD); however, there is a wide scope of conceptualizing how and what a PE research process may entail. Specifically, more nuance and insight are needed regarding how PE is a formidable research process between SFD researcher and SFD organizational staff. The purpose of this paper is to illustrate the organic and planned methodological processes of conducting a PE. Hence, this study provides empirical insight into conducting a PE with an SFD project located in Vietnam. Drawing from my fieldwork, I detail the initiation of the PE, the process of establishing methods, data collection, data analysis, and results, and then comment on the researcher-to-practitioner tensions that arose. The data highlights that while participatory research (PE in this case) is increasing, there are processual considerations and limitations that need to be accounted for in the field. Inasmuch, this paper adds to pertinent methodological discussions by providing an in-depth account of PE research in SFD practice.

An examination of an Aotearoa/New Zealand plus-sport education partnership using livelihoods and capital analysis

Education is regarded as a human right and fundamental to achieving other human rights, such as decent work. Education is essential for developing human potential, and it can help address growing social and economic inequality. However, for many Indigenous populations in the global North, realizing their fullest potential thorough mainstream education is mired with difficulties, and this has had serious implications for employability and livelihoods creation. This paper presents research undertaken in Aotearoa/New Zealand (NZ) where the Taranaki Rugby Football Union (TRFU) has partnered with local education provider Feats to establish the Māori and Pasifika Rugby Academy (MPRA). The purpose of the partnership is to provide an alternative education pathway to increase livelihoods opportunities. Undertaking a capital and livelihoods analysis of the TRFU and Feats partnership has allowed us to see more clearly different aspects of the MPRA program and bring to the fore other features of the learners’ journeys. While the building of human capital through education is important, of greater significance is the cultural and psychological capital that is built through program attendance.

Exploring migrant families’ acculturation and livelihoods in Canada and the role of sport participation

Canada is poised to increase the number of migrants arriving annually. Growing attention is being directed toward how sport can be managed in a way that is accessible and inclusive of immigrant populations, as well as how sport can foster new opportunities for migrants to develop connections within their communities. The objectives of this research were to explore broadly the realities of the migrant settlement experience and migrants’ livelihoods in Toronto and the role sport had on these experiences. Using an exploratory case study methodology, this paper explores the participants’ strategies of acculturation and the implications of these strategies for developing social and cultural capital. Youth sport programming is discussed as having little effect on the financial capacities and livelihoods of migrants. As illustrated within this paper, sport has the ability to facilitate crosscultural relationships and influence acculturation strategies. However, sport-specific cultural capital produced asymmetries in the outcomes of sport participation. While sport may serve a role in developing social outcomes, efforts to improve the access of migrants to employment opportunities within their field of experience, either within or outside of sport contexts, are required to positively affect the livelihoods of migrants.

Guiding qualitative inquiry in sport-for-development: The sport in development settings (SPIDS) research framework

The burgeoning field of sport-for-development (SFD) is witnessing a steady increase in experience-related empirical investigations. To support academics—and in particular young and emerging scholars—with a rigorous framework for investigating social and cultural phenomena in different SFD contexts, we propose the process-oriented sport in development settings (SPIDS) research framework. SPIDS represents a guiding framework that advocates a qualitative approach to researching SFD projects in which multiple methods are combined for a holistic in-depth investigation. In this paper, we apply practical examples from the SFD field to the SPIDS framework and discuss its individual sections in a step-by-step manner. Specific focus is placed on aspects of reflection and reflexivity as distinctly important and underpinning aspects of qualitative SFD research.

Advancing the sport for development field: Perspectives of practitioners on effective organizational management

The purpose of this qualitative study was to examine the perspectives of SFD practitioners on how SFD organizations can be more effectively managed for sustainability and meaningful impact. With a goal to respond to the call that SFD research should reflect on its effectiveness and the managerial direction in which it is going, we engaged with a variety of SFD practitioners to seek out their voices as well as to illuminate their reflections on and inputs to the field. Thirty practitioners from 29 SFD organizations participated in the study. Practitioners’ advice for effectively managing SFD organizations included enhancing sustainability, having a passion for sport and SFD, gaining experience before taking action, engaging in professional training, establishing academic partnerships, developing a professional and entrepreneurial mindset, and utilizing online resources. Practical implications, recommendations, and future research directions are discussed.

Formalizing sports-based interventions in cross-sectoral cooperation: Governing and infrastructuring practice, program, and preconditions

Sports-based interventions are utilized today in many countries in cross-sectoral cooperation, for instance, as a means of social inclusion. However, not enough is known about the conditions of development or the formalization of operations. Accordingly, in this article, we focus on two instances of midnight football carried out in two suburban areas in Sweden in order to explore the mechanisms and conditions for interventions to achieve increased formalization and sustained operation. Through an analysis of interviews and network visualizations, we examine how collaborating agencies conceive of and describe their role in the assemblages of agencies surrounding and enabling the interventions. By looking closely at the forms of collaboration and communication in these networks, we find that the interventions have developed locally and not according to a central or strategic design. We identify three levels of design within the interventions, where communication, cooperation, and formalization can be governed: practice, program, and preconditions. Through a detailed analysis of these levels of intervention, we present crucial mechanisms for increased formalization and sustained operation and how these mechanisms differ between sites. In conclusion, on the basis of our analysis, we discuss refined approaches to understanding the temporality and interchangeability in the formation of cooperation and thus offer a refined conceptualization of the formalization of operations.

Volume 7, Issue 13 published

The Journal of Sport for Development (JSFD) is pleased to announce the publication of its thirteenth issue.

Understanding female youth refugees’ experiences in sport and physical education through the self-determination theory

As female youth from refugee backgrounds are forced to migrate and resettle, they face unique challenges not often addressed by their host community. Participating in physical activity (PA), however, may pave a pathway to healthy resettlement. Nine Burmese females from refugee backgrounds participated in semistructured interviews and discussed their experiences in sport and physical education and how those experiences relate to their sense of belonging, autonomy, and relationships, as well as their ability to adapt. Participants then completed a photovoice task where they photographed highlights and challenges they have faced in PA. Photographs were analyzed and discussed in a follow-up interview. The interviews were transcribed and analyzed using thematic analysis. Resulting dimensions such as sport incompetence, growth mindset, importance of autonomy and choice, and desired peer relationships support Ryan and Deci’s (2000) self-determination theory. Practical implications for PE teachers, coaches, and school administrators are discussed. These results inform school districts of potential barriers and future interventions that could help this population better resettle and encourage participation in sports and physical activity.

Yarning with the Stars Project: An Indigenous evaluation protocol for a sport for development and peace program

In Australia, the gap between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students and their non-Indigenous peers is significant in terms of attendance, retention to Year 12, and literacy and numeracy skills, with the gap widening in regional and remote contexts. School-based, “academy-style” engagement programs work to close this gap by providing holistic support services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students while requiring a certain level of school attendance by program participants. Shooting Stars is an engagement program based in seven remote and regional schools in Western Australia, where it uses netball and other incentives to engage Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander girls in their education, while promoting their health and wellbeing. Shooting Stars evaluates the efficacy of its services through collation of attendance data, participant case studies, and yarning circles. The methods used in the yarning circles research were developed over 18 months in collaboration with Shooting Stars participants, localized Shooting Stars steering committees, and Shooting Stars staff. This paper presents the evaluation protocols for the Shooting Stars program, focusing on the yarning circles’ methods in order to provide a framework or model of Indigenous evaluation methods for others working within this space.