You are here

2021 survey results: Views on the sector

2021 survey results: Views on the sector

sportanddev users continue to view the future of sport and development positively, despite the challenges posed by the covid pandemic.

The International Platform on Sport and Development (sportanddev) has conducted its 2021 annual survey in order for us to better serve our users and provide insights into the state of sport and development.  The results are illuminating across many areas - we produced an article with insights related to the role of sportanddev and a second article on recommendations for sportanddev.

This article contains insights related to the future of sport and development and how users view the future of this emerging field, including the challenges and opportunities due to the covid pandemic.

Challenges and opportunities

We asked survey respondents to comment on the sport and development field. Despite the challenges facing sport and development, which have been exacerbated by the COVID pandemic, 95% of respondents were 'very or mostly positive' about the future of sport and development. However, respondents did identify specific challenges and opportunities for the field, given the current crisis.

Challenges included:

  • Reduced funding and opportunities for sport for development, as resources are constrained or diverted due to the COVID pandemic, with sport often not seen as a priority
  • Due to these challenges, organisations are often in survival mode rather than pursuing long term planning, strategy and research. Some believe the sector has therefore lost momentum
  • The pandemic has worsened inequities, including access to sport and physical activity
  • Growing divide and inequities within sport for development between bigger, established organisations with greater access to resources and smaller organisations with less access
  • Practical challenges of running projects in-person due to social distancing, closure of institutions (e.g. schools), limited availability of coaches/volunteers and the difficulties of adapting to other forms of delivery, recognising the digital divide that continues to exist
  • Increased social issues, including child abuse, gender-based violence, alcoholism etc. that have impacted communities and present a challenge to sport for development programmes.
  • Linked to the above, women and girls have been profoundly affected by the pandemic and there is a risk that recent gains made in relation to gender equity in sport may be reversed.
  • The sport and development sector has grown but it is still very niche. There remains a lack of understanding among those in mainstream development, including government and business.

“The psychosocial benefits of sport have been highlighted through the COVID pandemic and I believe sport will be viewed as an important tool for societal development in upcoming years. However, the quality of coaching interaction and a move away from focusing on high performance sports and sports entertainment will be challenges to tackle for the sector in the upcoming years.” (Survey respondent)

Opportunities included:

  • An opportunity to innovate delivery, for example using a blended approach to implementing programmes – both online and offline (where possible) – to expand access and reach
  • Build bridges virtually through enhanced online collaboration and knowledge sharing
  • This may be an opportunity to advocate for reshaping the sport and development sector, to be more accessible, equitable and inclusive. This includes greater priority and resources being dedicated to grassroots sport, and sport and development initiatives, and not just elite sport
  • Align sport and development policies and programmes with urgent global needs enabling them to be part of the relief, response and recovery efforts, thus enhancing their sustainability
  • Linked to the above, sport and development has shown that it can be an important part of the COVID response, including its contribution to physical and mental health.

For greater detail on the responses, please see the full 2021 survey results document here.

Thank you to everyone who took the time to complete the survey. We are community driven and your feedback is important to us. While we are not able to promise to implement all suggestions made – some are dependent on financial resources – we take all suggestions seriously and will carry out as many as possible. To provide feedback and/or suggestions throughout the year, please email


Article type



Monday, August 16, 2021 - 15:11

E-Newsletter subscribe