How to convince parents there is value in sport
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Sport projects sometimes face resistance from parents who argue that school should take priority over sport. Practitioners need to be ready to demonstrate that the two are complementary rather than incompatible.

It can be said that getting a good education is much more important than playing in the dirt. When thinking of it like this most parents would agree. Even when a mother does not have a roof over her head, making sure her children get to school takes priority. In these situations, play is not considered to be time well spent.

Social organisations often find it extremely difficult to have a conversation with a mother about why youth should play sport rather than study more. However, it’s not impossible and gets easier with time and experience.

Since there is global evidence that sport and development programmes have the potential to “improve learning levels and skills that promote employment” (Dasra, ‘Power of Play’ report, 2013) talking about the benefits of sport is something to highlight early on in conversations with the community when planning projects.

Here is some advice for organsations who plan on using sport in their programmes but are not sure how to approach the parents of potential participants:

  • Understand why the parent is sending their child to school. It can be related to marriage prospects rather than employability
  • Suggest sport as a break from intense studying. The next study session will be more productive
  • Use sport as an incentive for commitment to studies
  • Show interest in youth’s academic achievements by visiting their school and tracking their grades
  • Ensure a safe space and assure parents of concern for welfare
  • Make rules for the sessions. For example, participant must have been to school that day/week/month or must have finished homework before the session
  • Show parents your organisation’s credentials


Facing resistance to the concept of “play sport instead of extra study time” is normal. The fact is, it’s known that when sport and education combine to enhance one another, we start to discover the great power of sport as a mechanism for social change. Now it is time to convince communities at the grassroots too.