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Youth building back better in sport and development

Copyrights: USAG Humphreys

Youth building back better in sport and development

A recent call for articles and report advocates for young people to play a more decisive role in sport for development programmes and policies.

In the lead up to International Youth Day 2021 on 12 August, the International Platform on Sport and Development (sportanddev), in partnership with The Commonwealth, launched a call for articles on youth engagement and leadership in sport for development.

A total of 52 articles were received from all regions of the world, focusing on various issues facing young people today, including youth development, youth engagement, social change, gender equality, inclusion and representation.

  • All the articles can be accessed here

The Global South weighs in

The highest number of articles came from the Global South, indicative of a growing and robust sport for development sector in the region. This is further encouraging given that most of the world’s youth are from the Global South.

Articles received came from many different types of organisations, ranging from international NGOs to grassroots organisations. Many of the articles were written by the youth themselves, helping readers understand their perspectives and problems more closely.

Further, a vast range of sports are being used to work with youth, as indicated by the articles received. Some of the sports mentioned included football, table tennis, lawn tennis, kabaddi, tchoukball, lacrosse, surfing and boxing.


The main thematic focuses of the articles were around using sport-based approaches to foster greater inclusion, economic empowerment, peer leadership and power sharing.

Inclusion was the most apparent theme in the articles, highlighting how different marginalised groups can be assisted through sport.

A further significant theme was how sport for development programmes can support the economic empowerment and employability of youth.

Many articles also discussed the importance of peer leadership in empowering youth and equipping them to be changemakers within their communities and beyond. It is important that sport for development actors invest in developing the leadership capacities of the youth.

Related to the idea of peer leadership, many articles discussed the importance of a power-sharing model in sport for development programmes to actively engage with youth participants. This means allowing youth to raise their voices regarding different programmes and policies that impact them.

The way forward

A number of thematic gaps also emerged. These included: a lack of articles focusing on the policy perspective and the work of governments and intergovernmental actors; limited attention to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on youth and their role in sport for development; a lack of articles on how young people can use sport to respond to the climate crisis or how technology can interface with sport to enable change; and more.

In the future, we encourage submissions related to these topics so that we can faciliate greater dialogue and help to bridge the gaps between policy and practice in this field, including ensuring young people are more meaningfully involved.

  • Read the full report here.

This call for articles and report was produced as a part of a partnership between sportanddev and the Commonwealth, a long-time supporter of the platform.


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Wednesday, January 12, 2022 - 05:52

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