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Examining the constraints that surround the choice of sport in SDP
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Dr Oscar Mwaanga and Kola Adeosun outline the way Sport for Development and Peace programmes (SDP) choose the right sport and how finance, history and power have constrained the diversity of choice.

Choosing the right sport is not as straight forward as it comes across. A number of complex factors determine and constrain the freedom of choice. However, it is crucial to state that no single factor can be the sole determinant and the resulting choice is underpinned by a complex interaction of factors. Here we address a few key ones including historical, financial and power related factors.

The historical factor
Historical trajectories are vital determinants of what sports are played and subsequently used for SDP interventions. Unsurprisingly then SDP programmes are usually limited to the exposure a sport has had in a particular community. The popular sport is woven into the fabric of a particular community over time. To a large extent, history is a determining factor because modern sport was transported to grassroots SDP communities through historical events such as slavery and colonialism. For example, it is not surprising that within the international SDP arena, former British colonies will choose British sports such as rugby, football and netball as the SDP interventions sports of choice.

The influence of finance
The choice of sport is subject to the interest of vested parties. A good example is how particular organisations will always be associated or fund interventions using a particular sport. An obvious example is FIFA, who are more likely to sponsor a 'football development' programme than a 'tomorrow's tennis' programme. Another example would be basketball. If you carefully look at the organisation behind a basketball based intervention, you are likely to find companies that have a historical association with basketball, usually American. As a result sports are not chosen: they are usually informed by the power behind the choice.

At the same time, there are always questions whether an individual sport would better serve the purpose, over a team sport. In truth it is dependent on the goals and aims of the programme. For instance, if the attribute aimed for is community development, then a team-orientated game is perhaps better suited, but if the aim is self-determination and self-efficacy, perhaps an individual sport would yield greater successes. However, SDP finance and funding is usually a key factor and team-sports tend to be a more suitable alternative because they are cheap, require reduced personnel and require less equipment.

Power and sport
In essence, if resources where plentiful and choice was free, sports would be chosen on intended outcomes. Indeed the limited choice of sports is reflected in SDP programmes, when it comes to the gender question. The reality is that gender unfortunately does not play much of a role in sport choice, because most sports are male orientated; the sponsors tend to be males from male influenced corporations therefore female participation tends to be mostly unexpected. To conclude then female choices are marginalised while sport becomes a generic cure and seen as the inclusive tool to break all barriers.

Dr Oscar Mwaanga is an Associate Professor at Southampton Solent University as well as a social entrepreneur and activist internationally renowned for Sport for Development and Peace (SDP). He has focused his work around sport as a tool for health promotion, for example movement games to educate about HIV/AIDS, obesity and poverty. Oscar is recognised as one of the indigenous leaders of the Sub-Saharan Africa Sport for Development and Peace movement of the last decade especially after founding EduSport Foundation, which is the first Sport for Development Peace organisation in Zambia.

Kola Adeosun is a research fellow at the Zambian Institute of Sport. His research interests include, sport/physical activity from a sociological point of view and participatory development research. His recent research focuses on redeveloping SDP research, working closely with Oscar Mwaanga to propose a shift in how SDP research is conducted.



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