The Power of Sport

The power of sport to generate dramatic benefits for young people and disadvantaged communities is harnessed by organisations around the world.  This includes local community groups and goes right up to government bodies.

Imaginative projects from Magic Bus in India to Trelya in Cornwall all testify that sport has the X factor. That’s because, by speaking a universal language, sport is able to touch everyone’s life.

Sometimes Sport for Good is called Sport for Development or Sport for Social Change.

In countries where poverty is absolute, or where very deep poverty is the living condition for the mass of people, Sport for Good often supports communities to develop the basics of life – including literacy, hygiene awareness and drug awareness. Sport for Good also encourages conflict resolution strategies and positive collaboration for economic growth. 

Sport Tackles the Effects of Poverty in the UK

In the UK, Sport for Good is effective in a variety of settings. Projects – sometimes called interventions - that make sport available to disadvantaged neighbourhoods and people change the distribution of resources and tackle social exclusion.  Interventions also mobilise the power of sport to support people or communities in overcoming specific problems.

Sport is mainly deployed against three features of poverty: youth unemployment, youth crime and health and wellbeing inequalities. There are also excellent examples of sports projects promoting girls’ empowerment, community cohesion and capacity and providing opportunities for young people to step up to take the lead.

Sport for Good in the UK also creates the opportunity for disadvantaged young people to play sport. Used in this way, it narrows the gap in participation rates and quality of life between rich and poor people and communities. In the nationwide survey leisure activities including sport were understood by a majority of the population to be an essential part of life that they ‘could not do without’. As such, people recognised that doing without positive activities is an attribute of poverty.   

The shape of a Sport for Good intervention is determined by its purpose. For example, an intervention designed to improve inactive people’s health might run hour-long sports activities which increase the previously inactive participants’ movement towards meeting the CMOs Guidlines for a healthy life. The activity session might then be followed up with an hour of group discussions about inhibitors to a healthy lifestyle. At the other end of the spectrum of Sport for Good, a youth leadership programme which supports young people to learn to lead through sport might be based in a sports hall. Participants will only sit down to plan the next activities. Sport for Good interventions that are designed to narrow the participation gap might be 100% sport.

How much time is spent playing and organising sport, and how much of the intervention relies on instruments other than sport, varies by project and by issue.

Sport for Good in the UK

Most of the UK’s large governing bodies of sport are involved in the delivery of Sport for Good. They organise some of it through foundations and sports-specific charities . Large corporates invest in Sport for Good too. Sport for Good is also provided by national charities and small community organisations. Many of these community organisations join up to the StreetGames’ network of Doorstep Sport providers. Some of the national agencies make up the Sport for Good Coalition.

Small unsung community projects are often the best at providing effective sport for good.

Doorstep Sport and Sport for Good

Doorstep Sport changes lives and communities. Working for a fairer distribution of resources for disadvantaged people and areas. 98% of projects that make up the StreetGames network stated that their priorities were to make an impact on wider social outcomes such as community cohesion, crime and employability.  

The first wave of the Doorstep Sport projects that eventually became the StreetGames network  were part of the government’s New Deal for Communities programme to renew 48 of England’s most deprived neighbourhoods. These early-model Doorstep Sport programmes were designed to improve community life by getting young people more active, strengthening connections amongst residents, reducing health inequalities and reducing the high levels of youth crime. Since then Doorstep Sport has developed tactics and strategies that make a real differnce. 

You can make a difference

Sport brings huge benefits to young people’s lives. Even a small donation helps us to make those benefits available to our most disadvantaged communities.

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