ISA, together with its partners, invited the Utrecht University to answer the following two questions: What is the potential of sports as a tool for development? And how to benefit from that potential in the best possible way?
For this assignment, Utrecht University drew both on research and the experience it has built up over the last 15 years when it comes to Sport for Development. In the past, it had already studied, for instance, how sports can attract target groups which are usually hard to reach. And how it can be regarded as a site/place for socialization experiences, stimulating social processes of participation, which can be the key to reach certain international development goals.
For the ‘Sport for Development 2012-2015’ assignment, Utrecht University did a thorough policy and academic literature review, including the analysis of more than 200 articles, books and (international) policy documents over the 1998-2013 period. This resulted in a well-received publication: Sport for Development: the potential value and next steps. Several national and international academic courses and universities of applied sciences have expressed their interest in adding the publication to their curriculum.
An essential element of the publication is the ‘Sport for Development model’. This model clearly shows how sports can contribute to development at the level of intermediate outcomes, such as the development of life skills, the increase in social interaction and mobilization, the establishment of relationships, the development of role models, the growth of self-confidence and the development of social awareness and the community.