Sport for Development Approximately 1 in every 500 children around the world take part in S4D initiatives. These children face risks that include poverty, violence, poor health, learning disabilities and ethnic discrimination. It is universally known that sport is a fun and engaging way for children to be active and develop skills, so it is no surprise that they are drawn to S4D by the appeal of sport activities. However, once they are hooked, children are involved in programming that develops soft skills, promotes social inclusion, empowers young people and aims to reduce negative behaviour. In other words, these children come for the sport and stay for the support.
Barça Foundation & Unicef
In 2019, Barça Foundation and UNICEF released first-of-its-kind global study on Sport for Development. The Getting into the Game: Understanding the Evidence for Child-Focused Development report gathers evidence from 77 studies and more than 300 Sport for Development (S4D) programmes in 100 countries, analysed to provide recommendations and guidance for global S4D practitioners.
Through an integrative literature review, systematic mapping of available evidence, and global surveys of S4D programmes, the report analysed programme design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation systems to understand what works in S4D.
The Best Practice Key Messages identified are:
- Coaches and trainers must have quality training and meet high educational standards – The quality and preparation of coaches and trainers are critical in S4D programmes. They must have the capacity to follow the highest standards of child protection and safeguarding.
- S4D initiatives must adopt quality programme design – Sport activities can change children’s lives when initiatives are well planned, have clear goals and objectives, are carefully linked to developmental goals and are rigorously monitored.
- S4D initiatives must prioritize inclusivity and promote full participation – Special care is required to ensure that sport activities do not reinforce negative socio-cultural attitudes such as normalization of violence and inequitable access for all children.
- Active measures are needed to mitigate the risks and limitations of sport initiatives - There is no evidence to show that sport activities can reduce abuse and exploitation of children. In fact, there are indications that some sports expose children to multiple forms of risk and violence.
Through our research we’ve proven that sports are more than a path to personal fulfilment: they are a means to achieve the child-focused Sustainable Development Goals. Looking ahead, we aim to support many more children and to raise awareness of the value of Sports for Development.