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A more global future for sportanddev

Copyrights: Play Rugby USA

A more global future for sportanddev

It's time to think creatively about our future.

Over the past year, sportanddev has introduced changes that we hope will improve our efforts to achieve our goals. Sport and development has changed fundamentally since the platform was founded in 2003. There are many more actors involved in this rapidly growing movement. The sector has its own United Nations supported international day on 6 April. Sport was recognised as an enabler of development in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Despite this, the sector faces a range of challenges and we need to adapt accordingly. 

Since being founded in 2003, we have always been based in Switzerland, at the Swiss Academy for Development. That is still our ‘home base’ and it has certain advantages. Most of the world’s sports federations are here, as well as many United Nations agencies and international NGOs. The Swiss Academy for Development, which runs education, health and employment projects around the world, provides us with a tangible link to the field. 

However, we feel it is time to think more creatively about our future. We have always viewed ourselves as a hub for bringing together different actors – NGOs, sports federations, governments, universities and others – from around the world. If we also have a physical presence in different locations, perhaps our ability to fulfil that role can improve. We have, therefore, for the first time employed consultants working outside Switzerland.

We are very happy to welcome them to the team and would like to introduce them to you:

  • Hélène Bennès, Evian, France: With a background in social and human sciences, Hélène worked with us in 2017 as an intern. Following a very successful stint at sportanddev, we invited her to work with us again from February this year. We feel it’s important to have a dedicated member of staff to drive forward our French-language website and create links between the English and French-speaking sport and development community.
  • Dr Ben Sanders, Cape Town, South Africa: Ben has a PhD in Sport for Development and extensive experience working for NGOs and in the public sector. He has also worked as a consultant for intergovernmental organisations such as the Commonwealth Secretariat and UN agencies. We felt it was important to have a consultant based outside Europe. With a vibrant sport and development scene, South Africa seemed like the perfect option.
  • Simon Lansley, London, United Kingdom: Simon was previously Sports Editor of the UK's national news agency, The Press Association, and has since worked for for a number of leading sport and development organisations. He is the founder of ConnectSport, an online directory and media channel dedicated to sport for development in the UK and Ireland. With many leading sport and development organisations based in London – including two of our Steering Board members – we felt it was important to have a presence there. 

We realise that, with the exception of Ben, the team is still quite Eurocentric. That is something we will look to change as we expand and raise targeted resources to support such functions. For now, it is a step in the right direction and with staff members based in four important countries, we have a very good basis upon which to strengthen connections in sport and development and support the sector. 

One of our strategic goals for 2018-2022 is to develop networks and audiences in less well-represented regions, and another is to create links between policymakers and civil society. As part of that, we are looking at ways to increase the number of article contributions from people in lower and middle-income countries on our website and ensure actors in those regions are able to influence policy. While we recognise there are deeper structural issues at play across the world, sportanddev remains committed to promoting a level playing field for all actors in sport and development.


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Wednesday, September 19, 2018 - 12:40

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