Tag archives for Research Articles

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.

Lasting social value or a one-off? People with intellectual disabilities’ experiences with volunteering for the Youth Olympic Games

This article serves as a follow-up on a previous study and looks at how volunteering at a major sporting event has affected the lives of a group of volunteers with intellectual disabilities two years after volunteering. The aim is to examine how volunteering at an Olympic event may be a source for lasting social value, operationalized as an increase in social capital and quality of life. Qualitative interviews were conducted on a selection of former volunteers with intellectual disabilities (n=8). In five of the interviews, parents of the interviewees also functioned as facilitators for the interviews. The same five parents were also interviewed in brief, semistructured interviews. This study shows that the event had a limited effect on bridging social capital, while having a stronger impact on the group`s bonding social capital. Moreover, the event has affected the quality of life for the participants to various degrees by being a source for positive memories, enforced by visual reminders such as the volunteer uniform frequently worn by the former volunteers. The volunteer experience also serves as a bridging element, bringing together groups of people with little in common. In some cases, volunteering also led to employment in regular occupations.

“Putting kids first”: An exploration of the Teaching Personal and Social Responsibility model to youth development in Eswatini

This exploratory study examined the potential of using sport as a creative and engaging context to facilitate life skills development in socially vulnerable youth in Eswatini, who face major context-specific challenges to their healthy development. The sport for development program was designed using the Teaching Personal and Social Responsibility model with adaptations made to fit the cultural context. Participants in the program were local coaches (N=3 males) and socially vulnerable youth (N=48, 25 females and 23 males) aged 11-15 years old, recruited from a community-based organization. Coaches were trained as the primary implementers of the program. Data collection employed a mixed-methods approach that triangulated data from surveys, learning quizzes, focus groups, and interviews. Findings supported the potential value of the program in cultivating the development and possible transfer of personal responsibility (e.g., self-direction skills such as goal setting and decision making) and social responsibility (e.g., interpersonal skills such as respect, self-control, conflict resolution, and caring) behaviors. The study provided preliminary support for the contextual utility of engendering these developmental outcomes in an environment where youth are facing a major health threat (i.e., HIV/AIDS) and community challenges (e.g., gender-based violence, poverty). Continued investment in long-term sport for development programming in Eswatini is warranted.

“It’s borderline hypocrisy”: Recruitment practices in youth sport – based interventions

Sport is often promoted as a vehicle through which a variety of social policy outcomes can be achieved. One of the most common outcomes is the enhancement of social inclusion opportunities for marginalized youth populations. While a growing number of studies have examined the potential of sport-based interventions to address broader social concerns, few have focused on the recruitment activities used within such programs to engage youth populations. Drawing on interview data collected within two sport-based interventions delivered in London (UK), which both aimed to engage marginalized young people through sport, this article intends to examine three main issue: first, to explore the practices undertaken by the two organizations to recruit and retain participants in their sport-based interventions, and second, to examine the implications of these practices on participant recruitment strategies. Third, the article contends that within a context shaped by a neoliberal agenda, the necessity to meet predetermined participation targets encourages organizations to use the most efficient means possible to maximize numbers of program participants. However, such recruitment strategies often overlook young people whose social exclusion is more complex or acute, and who, arguably, are in greater need of intervention support.

Volume 7, Issue 12 published

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

CrossFit Sarajevo: Positioning against dominant ethnonational narratives

More than 20 years since its bloody war, Bosnia and Herzegovina continues to suffer under structurally imposed ethnic divisions. Sustained by the country’s leaders who rely on ethnocentric narratives fuelled by “memory politics,” they distort historical events for the benefit of their ethnic group. This paper relies on Positioning Theory to explore whether CrossFit Sarajevo, a grassroots initiative, created necessary conditions to challenge these ethnocentric narratives within the club. Relying on interviews with 13 of its members, the paper explores what impact positions, actions/acts, and storylines can have on the creation of a cohesive and respectful multiethnic community. According to its findings, this paper suggests that such organizations indeed have significant potential challenging divisive narratives. Embracing egalitarian and inclusive positions appears to have established a common code of conduct within the club’s members, contributing to the creation of a distinct sense of belonging and social trust. These have manifested in humanitarian projects undertaken by the club that seek to help some of the most disadvantaged in the broader community. Ultimately, this project highlights the important role grassroots organizations can play in postviolence settings and suggests further exploration into the influence and permeability of such initiatives in the broader society.

A cross-sectional study of sexual health knowledge, attitudes, and reported behavior among Zambian adolescent girl participants in a football program

Limited research has assessed whether sports participation can be linked to decreasing risky sexual behavior among adolescent girls in sub-Saharan Africa. The current study aimed to assess whether participation in a football league that provides sexual and reproductive health and rights lessons before each football match strengthened adolescent Zambian girls’ sexual health knowledge, attitudes, and behavior. Adolescent female participants in the girls-only football league run by the organization Futebol dá Força (FDF, n=120) completed a questionnaire assessing sexual health knowledge, reported attitudes, and reported behavior. Logistic regressions were used to assess associations between participants’ self-reported program exposure and their sexual health knowledge, reported attitudes, and reported behavior. After examining all exposure levels and adjusting for age, participants with at least six months of reported exposure to the FDF program had better sexual health knowledge and attitudes compared to those reporting less than six months exposure (AOR 4.74, 95% CI 1.70-13.19). Those in the more exposed group also had higher odds of reporting using a condom at last sex (AOR=11.64, 95% CI=1.08-124.57). These findings suggest that sports-based educational programs may improve sexual health knowledge and attitudes among African adolescent girls, potentially reducing the risk of sexually transmitted disease and early aged pregnancy.

Being a part of it: People with intellectual disabilities as volunteers in the Youth Olympic Games

During the Youth Olympic Winter Games event in Lillehammer, Norway, a group of students with intellectual disabilities worked as volunteers. The teachers of the class functioned in a social entrepreneurial manner, using the event to create social value for this particular group. Qualitative interviews were conducted with the group of students (n=12), and observations were made during the event. The students’ teachers (n=3) and the head of volunteers (n=1) from the organizing committee were also interviewed for triangulation, thus verifying the interpretation of the data. This study demonstrated that social value was created through the practical tasks the students with intellectual disabilities were given, especially in relation to the Olympic context of the event, and the job itself was more important than those for whom they were doing it or why. Other important sources of social value were for the students to be outside of the classroom and to be cooperating and learning from each other within the group. Last, the students had the opportunity to aid and assist, instead of being aided and assisted, and to give something back to the local community.

Organizational capacity for domestic sport for development

The purpose of this study is to explore the organizational capacity for domestic sport for development (SFD). Semistructured interviews were conducted with a representative from 17 domestic SFD organizations operating in Canada (n=17). Within the dimensions of human resources capacity, financial capacity, relationship and network capacity, infrastructure and process capacity, and planning and development capacity, interviewees indicated several unique aspects of organizational capacity for domestic SFD and variation by organizational life cycle. Domestic SFD organizations in this study were focused on improving their local communities using a range of sports (n=10). They represent both urban and rural communities from across Canada and indicated achieving educational outcomes, increasing awareness for mental health services, developing leadership and other life skills, and improving new immigrant and refugee integration through sport plus and plus sport programs. Organizational capacity elements uncovered in this study include passion for helping others and for the sport itself, familiarity with development issues, grant funding success, sustainable funding, sustained partnerships, social capital, facilities, formalization, and strategic planning. Implications for domestic SFD organizations and their stakeholders and recommendations for further research are provided.

Sport for development and peace: Surveying actors in the field

Human resources are critical to the success of SDP as a field, and yet little is known about the experience and expertise of the growing number of SDP actors (e.g., practitioners, scholars, students). The purpose of this paper is to present the results of a questionnaire designed to enhance our understanding of the SDP field through the eyes (and experiences) of SDP actors. The current state of the field is assessed, from the definition of SDP to information about the field that is actively sought (e.g., measurement and evaluation, program design and curriculum, funding) to concerns about limited support, ineffective and inequitable practices, and unclear impact. By understanding actors’ experiences in and expectations of the SDP field, we are able to identify a set of strengths and weaknesses that must be addressed in order to facilitate the field’s growth and development. The paper concludes with a set of recommendations about ways the field can be improved, including enhanced access to resources and research, more quality collaborations and partnerships, and meaningful, rigorous research and evaluation.

Volume 6, Issue 11 published

The Journal of Sport for Development (JSFD) is pleased to announce the publication of its eleventh issue. JSFD’s mission is to examine, advance and disseminate evidence, best practices, and lessons learned from Sport for Development programmes and interventions. JSFD is the first peer-reviewed, open-access journal devoted to exclusively publishing research from the field of Sport for Development.