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The beautiful contrasts of project visits with International Inspiration


The beautiful contrasts of project visits with International Inspiration

Dawn Goodwin, head of programme delivery at International Inspiration (IN), shares experiences from her recent field visit to Zambia, where IN supports programmes that use sport to teach young people about gender equity, empowerment and education.

Contrasts are very much a feature of our work in sport for development, but on this visit the most marked contrast for me has been between the impact that programmes have in reality and the systems we use to capture and report those impacts.

For the first few days of this visit I was helping a local partner to review the tools we use to track the progress of a great project that uses sport to empower girls and young women. In practice this involved long hours of meetings where we looked at revising surveys and questionnaires, reviewed indicators and targets! Then, a nine hour bus ride later, we were in Mufulira in the north of Zambia meeting with young women who had been trained as peer leaders who now regularly coach teams of girls in netball, football or volleyball. 

Later in the week, I travelled west of Lusaka to Mumbwa, visiting a programme where football is being used as a tool to talk with boys and young men about gender based violence. Listening to the young men talk openly about incredibly sensitive issues, exploring what it means to be a “real man” and talking about what kind of men and fathers they want to be blew me away. It highlighted to me how sport can be used to really connect with children and young people in such a profound and meaningful way.

But in listening to those young men and women, the contrast between the meaningful changes in real lives and the spreadsheets and indicators in which we try and capture that impact seemed so far apart. This begs a familiar question: how do we explain the impact that sport for development can have? Indicators and numbers are absolutely invaluable in capturing the scale and scope of the impact, and case studies certainly help highlight individual examples – but nothing I’ve come across to date adequately captures the depth of impact that I’ve seen when visiting projects. And that’s a real shame.

[This article has been edited by the Operating Team]


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Mel Paramasivan


Thursday, May 28, 2015 - 03:00