Skip main navigation

Why sport? Benefits and limitations

By focusing on where sport initiatives can have the best impact, we can scale up their success.
Community members from El Sereif, North Darfur, on horseback

Sport and development initiatives in different parts of the world have made considerable progress as organisations seek to increase their impact.

Many actors, including sports federations, NGOs and selected government ministries have developed a much clearer focus. That includes defining different programmes and the outcomes they can realistically deliver.

A more targeted and deliberate approach is more likely to be effective. This includes adopting a balanced view of sport that considers risks and limitations, not only sport’s benefits.

However, sport is not always the most effective means to create social, environmental, or economic changes in all contexts. It may, at times, not be an appropriate solution at all.

There may be a temptation to use sport in every scenario. However, it is important to put the needs of your target audience first – is sport what they want or need? Is it an appropriate mechanism to deal with the relevant issue(s)?

Organisation purpose

Before you design and deliver activities, reflect on the relevance of sport and development programmes to your organisation.

Think about your initiative.

  1. What does your organisation do? What is your core business?
  2. How does your organisation do what you do?
  3. What are the purpose, values, causes and beliefs of your organisation?
  4. Why does your organisation exist? Who does it exist for (who are your key stakeholders)?
  5. How will a sport and development programme enhance/add value to the work your organisation is already doing? What would be the programme’s goal/purpose? How does the programme align with your organisation’s strategic plans?

Starting with ‘Why?’ and aligning initiatives with your organisation’s core business first encourages a sustainable and realistic starting point for programme design and resource allocation.

Reflect on these questions in the discussion with others.

This article is from the free online

Sport for Sustainable Development: Designing Effective Policies and Programmes

Created by
FutureLearn - Learning For Life

Reach your personal and professional goals

Unlock access to hundreds of expert online courses and degrees from top universities and educators to gain accredited qualifications and professional CV-building certificates.

Join over 18 million learners to launch, switch or build upon your career, all at your own pace, across a wide range of topic areas.

Start Learning now