Exit Menu

Local roots help sports grow in developing world

Sport is a favourite tool in international development policy circles, but Brunel research suggests developing countries will find most success by starting at a local level.

The Brunel team, led by Professor Tess Kay, has demonstrated that sports organisation models in the developed world are therefore unlikely to be appropriate.

Instead, sport projects have the best chance of achieving their development aims if they follow well-established principles for participatory, collaborative and bottom-up organisation that build on local ownership.

Prof Kay’s work also advocates nurturing the organisational skills of local people to evaluate the requirements of the project funder.

As an example, Brunel provided training and resources for local staff at the Go Sisters girls’ empowerment project in Zambia, helping them carry out data collection, processing and reporting using customised research tools.

This empirical research has so impressed the funders of the scheme, who include DFID and Comic Relief, that Go Sisters has been able to help nearly 3,000 girls develop leadership and life skills through sports-based activities.

The Go Sisters programme aims to raise the profile of women in sport, and the wider public arena, by providing girls with a route to greater responsibility within their community. It raises awareness of women’s rights and health-related issues.

By taking responsibility for community sports activities, such as establishing girls sports teams, running leagues and delivering life-skills sessions, the girls themselves challenge gender-norms and gain practical experience in leadership positions. The programme helps integrate both the parents and teachers of the young women involved to ensure that the entire community understands the process and objectives of Go Sisters.