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Call for articles: Non-mainstream sports and development


Call for articles: Non-mainstream sports and development

Sport and development projects tend to rely on a handful of sports for their ease in relaying information and drawing in participants. But are mainstream sports always the best choice?

The sport and development sector promotes the idea that sport is a tool to convey information which get people excited about participating in a project. Certain sports have gained popularity within the sector for a variety of reasons. They can be easy to teach, require little equipment, allow for flexibility in incorporating learning components, and are adaptable. Football is perhaps the best example of a mainstream sport being used for development work. It is frequently used in projects and for good reason. It can be played almost anywhere, is globally popular, and has many international icons.

While it is helpful to have such sports to rely on, it’s worth considering the use of non-mainstream sports when planning a project. Perhaps another sport could be even more successful in teaching life skills, conveying information and attracting participants. Though donors might not immediately be drawn to supporting programmes using sports such as orienteering and ultimate, there is a case to be made depending on the desired outcomes.

The concept of ‘mainstream’ within the sector is not easily defined. We cannot quickly measure how widely a sport is used or how popular it is with participants. Additionally, sports used in development work might not be the most popular sports more generally. We may consider a sport mainstream because the projects are well publicised and have reported long-term success (such as Capoeira4Refugees), rather than being used by multiple organisations.

Hearing from you
We are interested in hearing about your opinions or experiences with using a non-mainstream sport in development projects. Some questions to consider:

  • What are the reasons for picking a particular sport for a development project?
  • How do donor expectations influence the choice of the sport used?
  • What are the benefits of using a non-mainstream sport with participants?
  • What are the outcomes of the desired project and why?

Submit an article

If you would like to contribute an article, please contact with your idea and to discuss next steps. Articles should be submitted by 18:00 (CET) on 28 July 2016 and should not exceed 400 words.

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Kathleen Woodhouse-Ledermann


Tuesday, July 5, 2016 - 23:00


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