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What does the future hold for sport and development in 2020?

boy playing football
Copyrights: DFAT, Flickr

What does the future hold for sport and development in 2020?

Increased grassroots participation, alignment of policy and practice with the SDGs, and the opportunities of an Olympic year: seven sport and development experts offer their reflections and predictions for the year ahead.

To celebrate the start of a new decade, the sportanddev team took the opportunity to talk to a few experts from different sectors. We asked them to reflect on the most important events in sport and development in 2019, and what they are most looking forward to in 2020.

Ben Sanders
Senior consultant, sportanddev

“I believe the most important development in 2019 was the increased commitment across the public, private and third sectors to using sport to contribute to the SDGs and other development priorities. This includes aligning sport policy and practices to the SDGs (where applicable), creating common means (and indicators) to measure sport's contribution, and building strategic partnerships within and beyond sport.

“In 2020, I hope we see this commitment translate into increased investment in the sport and development sector, not only for program delivery but also institutional strengthening, including improved coordination, collective impact and the need to bridge the policy-practice divide.”

Rekha Dey
Founder, Rekha Dey and Associates (RDA)
Current Project: SDP Exemplar Centre, Paradise Academy School, Village Budhwa Shaheed, District Haridwar, Uttarakhand, India.

“Participation at the grassroots level is the soul of any well designed sport for development (SFD) programme. The development issues being addressed by an SFD programme are a matter of bringing about ‘change’, which is a process and does not have a finite timeframe that can be predicted. The SFD community, realising this, has made efforts in increasing participation in 2019.

“2020 should realise the importance of training and employment in sports and allied sectors. Life skills development without real time employment is only half way through the journey. I also hope that sports can be used as an effective tool to drive environment-related initiatives, with youth acting as drivers of change.”

Marion Keim and Christo de Coning
Chairperson and director of the Foundation of Sport for Development and Peace


“In 2019, we have experienced an increasing acknowledgement of the sector, although we still feel the absence of major international support and the closure of UNOSDP. 2019 has brought  the establishment of sportanddev as a major civil society platform for sport and development. Other highlights have been sport’s emphasis on SDG indicator development, an international focus on physical education at schools through the QPE [quality physical education], as well as an increasing focus on the role of sport and peace.

“In 2020 we look forward to international leadership in sport for development and peace, an increased role for NGOs, success for sportanddev, as well as participation in exciting future initiatives.”

Alexander Cárdenas, PhD
Sport for development researcher and academic
Founder, Plataforma Deporte para el Desarrollo y la Paz

"One of the most important developments in our field in 2019 was the publication of ‘Getting into the Game’, a study undertaken by UNICEF to understand the evidence for child-focused sport for development. In 2020, I hope to see a stronger collaboration between the global north and the global south in research and exchange of experiences in sport for development.

“With 2020 being an Olympic year, I also look forward to continuing to promote the potential of the Olympic Truce as a catalyst for peace. In particular, through ‘A Year Without War’, a project of which I am part, I expect this year to mobilise the international community and raise awareness and political support to fulfil our goal of extending the Olympic Truce to an entire year".

Mark Mungal
Director, Caribbean Sport and Development Agency
Working on several projects, including:
Regional safeguarding children in sport capacity building
Strengthening national sport sector policy re alignment with SDGs
School-based physical activity interventions to address child non-communicable diseases

“This last year saw a continuation of the strong commitment by key intergovernmental agencies (Commonwealth Secretariat, UNESCO, ILO, UNICEF and others) and some influential players in the sector (Barcelona FC, SSI, etc.) to invest in strengthening frameworks to guide the work of the sector. Importantly, these efforts have engaged a wide cross-section of voices from policymakers and academics to governments and SDP practitioners from across the globe, ensuring that the co-created frameworks facilitate (local) contextual relevance while maintaining global standards.

“The participatory and evidenced-based approach adopted by those leading these efforts continues to strengthen the credibility and viability of our sector, and for 2020 I look forward to more governments and other sport for development and peace partners adopting and applying the developed frameworks to facilitate more streamlined and measurable impact of the power of sport to contribute to global development.”

Eli A. Wolff
Co-Director, Power of Sport Lab 

"2019 was an important year for increased awareness and work globally on the intersection of human rights and sport for development and peace. For 2020, with the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games, hopefully it can be a platform for more efforts on sport for development, peace, and human rights, disability inclusion, and also an opportunity to further examine and reflect on the evolution and legitimacy of the sport for development and peace sector.

“In 2020, it will be great to see increased efforts to further build research, academia and theory to practice community within the sport for development and peace arena. Finally, hopefully 2020 will bring more creative marketing and media strategies and approaches, and also more attention to the powerful role of mentoring within the sport for development and peace space."

Daniela Bas
Director, Division for Inclusive Social Development
Department of Economic and Social Affairs, United Nations

"One successful development was the progress made to achieve gender equality in sport, particularly towards closing the pay gap for professional female athletes in football and tennis. Although there is a long way to go, some promising steps have been taken. One example was an agreement between the UN and FIFA to change policies, raise awareness on gender equality, and use football as a tool to empower women and girls worldwide.

"Another important area was to further promote the acknowledgement that professional athletes with and without disabilities are first of all athletes. A third key development was the increased recognition that sport and physical activities have to be inclusive and enjoyable by all peoples of all ages and abilities."

What do you think? Do you agree? Where is the sector heading in 2020?

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Tuesday, January 14, 2020 - 11:28