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Consistency in messaging and clarity in approaches, as well as referencing the SDGs, is imperative to drive the sport for development sector to new heights and credibility.

This article was submitted as part of our call for reshaping the future of sport and development.

Across the globe we see the vast numbers of organizations and professionals who do such amazing work using “sport” to make a “difference.”

This will include professional and community clubs, charities, governments, sporting bodies and associations, athlete unions and representative bodies, health promotion agencies, youth services, disability service providers. community groups, current and past professional sportspeople and many more. All striving to achieve positive outcomes for individuals and communities in a host of ways.

Whilst they will generally come under the “sport” umbrella and though there is some crossover in some of the work they do, there are distinct methodologies and approaches adopted by them. The terms community sport, grassroots sport, sports for development, sport development, inclusive sport, sports activism, sports for social impact, sports for human rights, sport for good and sports diplomacy are just some of the labels of the work they do and the sectors they belong to.

This diversity in individuals and groups in this space is a great strength in an evolving and developing sector, though some would argue a need for better understanding and clarity of the different approaches and methodologies, targets groups and even outcomes and measurement of impact. Such clarity would allow stakeholders, including governments, to better conceptualise the range of work undertaken in this space, create stronger monitoring and evaluation processes, drive excellence in delivery and facilitate stronger collaboration between suitable parties and disciplines.

From my own experience, many funders are also seeking greater accountability and better understanding of the work undertaken when assessing grant applications and sponsorship proposals, especially when competing against other traditional services and supports that address social and community issues.

Other stakeholders and members of the community are also still to fully understand the nature of our work. This can cause confusion, lack of understanding and on occasions credibility loss.

To address this, in my personal work I often draw reference the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which are often described as a common language to unite a global commitment towards key social, economic, and environmental development issues, and sport has been widely accepted and promoted as an enabler of social change.
 
The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development explicitly outlines the role of sport in achieving seventeen specific goals including new areas such as climate change, economic inequality, innovation, sustainable consumption, peace and justice, among other priorities.

Consistency in messaging and clarity in approaches as well as referencing the above-mentioned goals could be a vehicle that drives the sport for development sector to new heights and credibility into the future.

We are undeniably on the same team, the results are on the scoreboard, but for an emerging sector, we need to be on the same page and aim for consistency. It is this consistency that which will benefit us, the wider community and the stakeholders who would be willing to invest in us.

­­______________________________________________________________________________

George Halkias is co-founder of the Big Issue Street Soccer Program in Australia, a sport for development leader with City in the Community (Melbourne City Football Club) as well as sport For development consultant and speaker (www.georgehalkias.com.au).

Authors

National Coach Big issue Street Soccer Program Australias and Independent Sports Development Consultant

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16 - Peace, justice and strong institutions.
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