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OLYMPIC RESEARCH CORNEROLYMPIC REVIEW65USING SPORT IN INTERNATIONALDEVELOPMENT As this issue of the Olympic Review shows, sport isnow being used to address acute social andeconomic problems in many of the poorest countriesin the world. The last few years have seen a markedrise in the use of sport in international developmentwork, although the exact scale and spread of thiswork is almost impossible to measure. Attemptshave been made but estimates vary widelydepending on the types of activity being examined.Last year, for example, researchers at North EasternUniversity, Boston identified over 1500 known sportfor development providers and projects worldwide; atthe same time, however, researchers in South Africafocussing on small-scale, community level sportsactivity reported more than 200 examples of sport ?LeftA group ofboys playingfootball in Dhaka,Bangladesh

66OLYMPIC REVIEWOLYMPIC RESEARCH CORNERbeing used in development work in one city alone(Lusaka, capital of Zambia). These very different figures simply reflect thedifferent focus of each research study. While theNorth American researchers concentrated onprogrammes that could be classed as 'sport indevelopment' initiatives, the African team werefocusing on activity that was less visible. Much of thesport they recorded was being provided independentlyof any of the better-known formal agencies; in fact,often those running the sports activities were notspecialist sport organisations at all. Instead, they werelocal groups or institutions, such as schools, whichwere working in their communities on issues such asyouth development and had chosen to use sportbecause it was an effective method of reaching theirtarget group. The existence of this less formal andoften undocumented sports-based development workmeans that the increase and spread of sport indevelopment contexts is even greater than manyofficial estimates show.THE CONTRIBUTION OF SPORT TOINTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENTGOALS Locally based grassroots work is harder to identify andmeasure than more formalised and visible programmesin which major organisations such as UNICEF and theIOC tend to be involved. The fact that large numbers oflocal projects exist is a good illustration of just howwidespread the appeal of sport has become. In manyways, identifying the scale of this grassroots activity isan exciting development: it shows that sport is provingits worth because it is an effective way of working withgroups in need, especially young people. Projects rangefrom those that simply use sport to engage youngpeople and offer them some enjoyable activity, to thosewhich have wider social goals, such as increasingeducational attendance and attainment; providinghealth education generally and HIV/AIDS education inparticular; and fostering empowerment, especiallyamong young women. Sports programmes can therefore have ambitiousaims. Ultimately, many are seeking social change,hoping to improve the life-chances of poorer and less-educated groups in the community by providing themwith the knowledge to make informed choices aboutkey aspects of their lives. It is through strategies suchas this that sport has the potential to contribute to theMillennium Development Goals, in areas such asfemale empowerment, access to education and betterhealth. But these are complicated challenges forsports programmes, and they raise importantquestions for researchers. The most fundamental are- how should we research sport in internationaldevelopment contexts? And how much does researchtell us about whether sport actually works?RESEARCHING SPORT'S IMPACT There have always been difficulties in researching thesocial outcomes of sport. The problem is partlymethodological: it is difficult to define concepts suchas 'empowerment' and 'social cohesion' and decidehow they are to be 'measured'. It is also partly aquestion of resources, which are usually too limited tofund the in-depth study that is needed to fullyunderstand the complicated processes by which sportmay contribute to social change. Funding levelsrestrict the time that researchers can spend in-country, giving them limited exposure to the culturalcontext within which sport in development initiativesoperate, and little opportunity to develop research toolswhich are culturally appropriate. As a result, manystudies are project-specific, use quantitative tools andfocus mainly on immediate behavioural impacts. Mostdo not address wider contextual influences, or thelonger-term impacts of sport, and have limitedexplanatory power. RESEARCH FINDINGS ON HOWSPORT CONTRIBUTES TOINTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENTIncreasingly researchers have tried to developmethods which give them a better account of thecontext within which sports development programmesoperate, so that they can understand the impact thatparticipation has on the individuals who take part, andon the social relations they have with others. Therehas been more focus on qualitative approaches,including discussions groups and in-depth interviews,and more effort to involve participants in researchprocesses. This approach still faces problems, as it isdifficult to verify individual accounts, and there arealso often language constraints on the work that canbe done. Nonetheless, studies carried out over thelast five years have consistently identified some keybenefits that sport provides, and offered insight intohow these benefits occur. The five that stand out are: Sport has special qualities for engaging youngpeople Sport can be attractive and enjoyable forexperienced and inexperienced participants alike.Team sports in particular can help develop a range ofpersonal and social skills in an experiential waythrough enjoyable activity.Sport can be very effective in promoting and/ordelivering educationSport can contribute to improvedlevels of education indirectly, as an incentive to attractyoung people to school, or directly, when educationalcontent is delivered through sports activity. Youngpeople's experiences of being physically active in sportcan be particularly relevant in improving theirunderstanding of health, and sports activities can alsoRight and below rightTeamskills developedduring sport canassist thepersonal andacademicprogress ofyoungsters