An own goal in sport for development: Time to change the playing field
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Sport for Development and Peace (SDP) refers to the use of sport to promote varied outcomes beyond the playing field and has been defined as ‘the intentional use of sport, physical activity and play to attain specific development objectives in low- and middle-income countries and disadvantaged communities in high-income settings.’ Stakeholders working in the field for the last two decades include the United Nations, the public sector, the private sector and civil society with an increasing number of SDP initiatives across the globe. While other disciplines such as health and education have engendered a more critical perspective on the factors causing and constraining development, certain SDP programmes do exhibit an ongoing gap between evidence and practice. In the most pronounced cases this is reflected with somewhat naïve and idealistic notions of the power of sport. Even if sport is applied in the right manner and results in the intended change, there are deeper structural issues that may negate such well-intentioned work. While a focus of many SDP organisations is to develope the individual to realise his/her capacity, there appears to be a genuine lack of initiatives that seek to challenge or reform the societal structures and conditions that caused this ‘underdevelopment' to occur in the first place.