Tess Kay



Career History

I joined the School of Sport and Education (now the College of Health and Life Sciences) at Brunel in September 2010 after several years as a sports academic at Loughborough University. I am a multi-disciplinary social scientist who has been working in sport and leisure research since the 1980s.

Over the course of my career I have undertaken a broad range of sports research, including a substantial body of work on youth sport carried out between 2003-10 as Deputy Director of Loughborough University’s Institute of Youth Sport. Prior to this I had participated in the wider social policy research community, including several years working with comparative European researchers. Much of my personal research reflects this background, and addresses social policy agenda that stretch beyond sport to include issues such as multiculturalism, health and well-being, and education. I enjoy the opportunity to work with academics and policymakers in multidisciplinary collaborations to address wider research issues around sport.

Research area(s)

My primary focus is on the experiences of individuals and social groups, and much of my work addresses aspects of disadvantage and exclusion - in the UK and Europe, and also in international development contexts. I undertake research in two contexts – the use of sport in international development contexts, and the use of sport in support of the public health agenda in the UK. My work in both of these areas includes a focus on developing research approaches, including monitoring and evaluation processes, which inform local practice and wider policy.

Since 2007 my largest body of work has been research conducted into the use of sport in international development contexts. I have received more than £400,000 from UK Sport, British Council, UNICEF, the Commonwealth Secretariat and the European Union for research in Brazil, India, the Caribbean and Zambia. My focus is on understanding sport within the wider development context, including whether and how sport might contribute to the Millennium Development Goals of raising education levels, addressing gender inequity, and countering the HIV-AIDS pandemic. I have been an invited participant in a number of expert forums addressing the development of this area of sport and have worked particularly closely with the Commonwealth Secretariat, including authoring (with Oliver Dudfield) the research-based Commonwealth Guide to Advancing Development through Sport (2013). Since 2013 important synergies have been developed between my international development research and Brunel’s renowned expertise in addressing child protection in sport worldwide. Through collaboration with Professor Celia Brackenridge, Dr Daniel Rhind and Dr Laura Hills we are now taking the lead in addressing safeguarding issues, including in the burgeoning ‘sport for development’ sector.

Alongside my international development research I have a strong involvement in research into the use of sport in the UK to promote health among inactive people, especially in impoverished communities and low income groups. I have a particular interest in the extent to which UK policy fails to address the social processes affecting health related behavior, despite the wide recognition of these by the global health community. My own work in this area benefits from BC.SHaW colleagues’ especially close relationship with community-level delivery of sport across health, education, community and youth sectors; this includes Dr. Laura Hills’ work with the innovative national agency StreetGames; Dr. Louise Mansfield’s work with local health partners and with the FE/HE sector; and Dr. Richard Blair’s work with community coaches in school contexts. A current priority is the Centre’s ‘Health and Sport Engagement’ (HASE) project led by Dr. Mansfield; HASE is part of Sport England’s Get healthy, get into sport initiative, and at the forefront of developing evidence on engaging inactive people in physical activity through sport.


Funded research


International development

2013-2018, UK Sport/Comic Relief. Evaluation of the Zambia Go Sisters Sport Development Project. PI

2013 – 2016, International Inspiration, Global Safeguarding Standards CI

2013, Caribbean Sport and Development Association (CSDA) The contribution of CSDA Sport for development programmes in the Caribbean to health, education, gender and disability. PI

2013 OAK Foundation Child Protection and the FIFA World Cup CI

2009-2013, UK Sport/DFID. Evaluation of the Zambia Go Sisters Sport Development Project. PI

Sport and health

2013-15, Sport England. Get Healthy Get into Sport: The Health and Sport Engagement (HASE) Project. CI

2013, sportscotland. Evidence review of the value of sport and physical activity in the tertiary education sector. CI

2012 Sport England, Evaluation of Exchequer Further Education Pilot Project. CI


Selected Publications

Journal articles

Kay, T.  and Spaaij, R.   (2012)   'The mediating effects of family on sport in international development contexts'. International Review for the Sociology of Sport, 47 (1).  pp. 77 - 94. 

Kay, T.   (2012)   'Accounting for legacy: the role of monitoring and evaluation in sport in international development'. Sport in society, 15 (6).  pp. 888 - 904. doi: 10.1080/17430437.2012.708289 

Webb, LA. , Kay, TA.  and Makopoulou, K.   (2010)   'Social learning in physical education: What skills can we teach?'. Physical Education Matters, 5 (3).  pp. 32 - 34. 

Kay, T.  and Bradbury, S.   (2009)   'Youth sport volunteering: Developing social capital?'. Sport, Education and Society, 14 (1).  pp. 121 - 140. doi: 10.1080/13573320802615288 

Kay, TA.   (2009)   'Developing through sport: Evidencing sport impacts on young people'. Sport in Society, 12 (9).  pp. 1177 - 1191. doi: 10.1080/17430430903137837 


Brackenridge, CH. , Kay, T.  and Rhind, D.   (2012) Sport, children's rights and violence prevention: A source book on global issues and local programmes. London:  Brunel University Press Download publication 

Kay, T.   (2009) Fathering through sport and leisure.  Taylor & Francis 

Banda, D. , Lindsey, I. , Jeanes, R.  and Kay, T.   (2008) Partnerships Involving Sports-For-Development NGOs and the Fight Against HIV/AIDS: Research in Lusaka, Zambia, 2007. York, UK:  York St John University 

Book chapters

Kay, T.  and Jeanes, R.  (2007)   'Women, sport and gender inequity', in Houlihan, B. (ed.) Sport and society.  Sage Publications Ltd pp. . 

Conference papers

Kay, T.   (2010)   'Researching sport and development: Beyond M+E' , 2010 Power of Sport International Conference. Boston. [unpublished].  

Kay, T.   (2009)   'Developing through sport: Evidencing sports impacts on young people' , International Studies Associatoin Annual Conference Sport and Development Panel. New York, USA. [unpublished].  

Kay, T.   (2009)   'Pressure zone or pleasure zone? How family life impacts work-life balance' , Hallman Visiting Professor Public Lecture. University of Waterloo, Ontario, Canada. 2 [unpublished].  

Kay, T.   (2009)   'Growing together through sport: Reciprocal learning in work with Muslim young women' , 1st International Sports Science Congress of the German Gymnastics Federation. Frankfurt, Germany. 30 - 5 June. [unpublished].  

Kay, T.   (2009)   'Family factors in support for youth sport' , 4th Researching Youth Sport Conference. Brunel University. [unpublished].  


Kay, T.  and Dudfield, O.   (2013)  The Commonwealth Guide to Advancing Development Through Sport.  Place of publication: Commonwealth Secretariat 

Page last updated: Thursday 15 September 2016