Calling out foul play in sport and development
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Gabriel Tito Tabona writes on the challenges of labour rights, exclusivity, and ensuring beneficiary protection in the sport and development sector.

Buoyed by its endorsement by a cross section of stakeholders who are now riding on its wave to achieve social impact, sport and development is now enjoying its dynamic nature even as experts are calling for more evidence-based research to ascertain its viability yet, instances which have shed light on ethical concerns facing the field continue to arise.

As various programmes in this field identify as non-profit ventures, funding challenges mean organisations are now moving towards the social enterprise model putting accountability in jeopardy. The end-game has now shifted to profitability, thus poor allocation of resources for its intended purpose. For instance, many organisations are notorious for hiring of local volunteers in the absence of an elaborate volunteer management policy hence exposing volunteers to exploitation. Such a document can help volunteers know the benefits they stand to gain in terms of stipend, medical cover and capacity development; things that are necessary to spur productivity.

Forming of global networks in the sector has been embraced over time, but with it comes a challenge of exclusivity as certain entities tend to fight for control of resources while at the same time denying others an opportunity to contribute their ideas with a view of maintaining the status quo, thereby leading to stagnation due to lack of innovation.

Having caught the eye of political leaders who, in pursuit of mileage and power, enlist the support of sport and development organisations, mostly by coercion with threats of influencing community hostility against the latter should they decline. Establishing proper community engagement mechanisms will ensure their target beneficiaries own their interventions and not them - sport and development entities - patronising their beneficiaries.

Striking a balance between legal integrity and human rights can at times be difficult. For instance, an organisation wants to protect its intellectual property at the detriment of its target beneficiaries. Cases of organizations producing images and films in their fundraising campaigns without the consent of the subject matter has created a win-lose scenario. Putting in place a beneficiary protection policy is vital in educating each party on the expectations and consequences.

The actors in the field are therefore challenged to be more aware of the aforementioned issues if the field’s credibility is to be considered as a necessary uniting force.


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