Sport for social development

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Sport for social development is a method of bringing about social change through the use of sports. In the United States this is commonly referred to as sports-based youth development. Sport refers to the physical activity and development in any individual, health, social and economic benefits. Sport is used as a tool for peace and development. The programs use sport to help children learn lifelong skills as an incentive for the children to improve their scholarship. Sport is used as a tool to reach personal and community goals. Most organizations utilizing this method are geared towards underprivileged children and teenagers in urban areas.

Promote youth development[edit]

Since the advent of modern Olympics in 1896, athletes have shown that sports enable people to come together in an effort to bring about global peace and to share a desire for self-improvement. Non-profit sports programs aiming to educate through similar means are part of an up-and-coming movement. However,[1] through sport, children learn sportsmanship and other life skills. Youth sport can help them grow towards positive development and good relationships with others. Sport is a tool utilized to get young people involved in their communities. Positive peer group relationships are also encouraged through coaching as well as the physical activity, which makes sport particularly beneficial to children with disorders such as ADHD.[2] This leads to youth feeling integrated with other young people. Through being involved in sports youth can gain self-esteem when they are enjoying the experience of taking part in a sport.[3] Sports help them gain lifelong skills and want to do better in the classroom as well. Involvement in sports have been related to one having better cognitive functioning as well as higher grades and test scores, satisfaction in school, engagement in school, aspirations for college, and lower dropout rates.[4] Also, according to the Official Website of the Olympic Movement, being surrounded by a supportive group of people with similar goals, as in playing a sport, “can alleviate the negative effects of poverty.”[1] Non-profit organizations are founded in urban areas affected by poverty to help marginalized children by creating an environment to unite people across gender, race, religion, or socioeconomic background.

Organizations in America[edit]

Up2Us Sports[edit]

Up2Us, doing business as Up2Us Sports, is a sport-based youth development non-profit organization founded in 2010 dedicated to supporting young people through sport.[5] Through their national coach program, Up2Us identifies, trains and supports coaches, many of whom serve as AmeriCorps members, to work with young people in underserved communities around the country.[6] Their training teaches strategies for coaches to work with young people who have dealt with trauma.[7]

Street Soccer USA[edit]

Street Soccer USA is a non-profit organization under the umbrella of HELP USA that promotes the growth and development of a national network of grassroots soccer programs to achieve social change. SSUSA aims to get homeless men, women, and youth off the streets through innovative, sports-based solutions to eradicate homelessness and poverty in the United States. As of 2010, SSUSA has 18 teams across the United States.[8]

Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities[edit]

Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI) is a youth baseball program operated by Major League Baseball. This youth initiative is designed to provide young people from underserved and diverse communities the opportunity to play baseball and softball. The program was created by John Young in 1989 in Los Angeles, and now serves more than 200 communities.

Team-Up for Youth[edit]

Team-Up believes in the power of sports to help children learn and grow socially, emotionally, and physica lly.[9] This organization was founded in 2001 and they want to support the healthy development of youth through strengthening and expanding after school sports programs in a low-income community in the San Francisco Bay Area. They make physical activity programs accessible in their neighborhood so that these children can socially, emotionally, and physical make improvements. The program has many components including: training and education, coaching corps, grant making, public policy, and knowledge creation and sharing. Team-Up receives substantial funding through the Evelyn & Walter Haas Jr. Fund and the San Francisco Foundation.

CityLax, Inc.[edit]

CityLax is based in New York City. Since the organization started in 2005, it has described itself as "school-centric."[10] CityLax functions on the idea that schools are the best environment for students and athletes alike to build on their abilities and work towards self-improvement. The organization brings lacrosse into the public school sphere to provide more opportunities to learn, both on and off the field.

Project GOAL[edit]

Project GOAL (Greater Opportunities for Athletes to Learn) is located in Central Falls, RI, just outside Providence. Project GOAL was founded in October 2004 with just 20 children involved. It has since tripled in size.[11] In a personal interview, Darius Shirzadi, Co-Founder and Executive Director of Project GOAL, emphasized that by playing soccer children learn "respect, responsibility, and accountability." The organization uses soccer to encourage team members to work towards academic improvement.[12] In doing so, the team members acquire new lifelong abilities. 97% of participating students have gone on to become the first in their families to attend college.[13]

Play for Life International[edit]

Play for Life International, founded in 2007, helps over 700 children per year. The organization provides a secure community for at-risk children. As stated on the website, "We give children a safe place to play while fighting the battle of idle time."[14]

Football in the Streets[edit]

Soccer in the Streets was founded in 1989 and works with nearly 2,000 youth each year. The organization empowers underserved youth through soccer, character development, mentoring, and employability programs. Throughout the 1990s, Soccer in the Streets introduced soccer to many urban and underserved communities through soccer clinics, especially during the 1994 and 1998 FIFA World Cups and the 1999 FIFA Women's World Cup. In recent years, Soccer in the Streets has developed programming geared towards preparing youth for success on and off the field. Year round programming serves youth from kindergarten through early adulthood.

Pure Game
Pure Game is a non-profit organization. Pure Game is an organization that supports children as young as six and as old as twenty who are underprivileged, increasing their self-esteem and forming new relationships through sports. Through its organization, Pure Game serves children who have endured traumatic situations and who have experienced acts of violence in the neighborhoods in which they live. Pure Game currently serves 64 school partners, operating 92 programs within those partnerships. Pure game currently operates in 15 different districts which include, 43 Elementary School Partners, 14 Middle School Partners, 5 High School Partners, 2 Specialty School Partners. Pure game currently operates in 15 different districts.

Global organizations[edit]

Sport for Social Development is a worldwide initiative.

Women Win[edit]

Women Win is the global leader in girls’ empowerment through sport. They leverage the power of play to help girls build leadership and become better equipped to exercise their rights. Sport is only the tool; the end game is helping girls thrive as they face the most pressing issues of adolescence, including accessing sexual and reproductive health and rights, addressing gender-based violence and achieving economic empowerment. Since 2007, Women Win has impacted the lives of over 1.24 million adolescent girls in over 100 countries. This has been made possible by collaborations with a wide variety of grassroots women’s organisations, corporates, development organisations, sport bodies and government agencies. Their work is strategically positioned at the intersection of development, sport and women’s rights.

Laureus Sport for Good Foundation[edit]

This global organization supports projects through funding, educational training, as well as research and evaluation tools. They also connect their projects from around the world to encourage collaboration. Laureus Sport for Good was founded in 2000, inspired be Nelson Mandela's infamous speech at the first Laureus World Sports Awards in 2000, in which he declared that "Sport has the power to change the world." Through its projects, the Foundation uses sport as the means to tackle problems such as HIV/AIDS, substance abuse, crime, social exclusion, landmines awareness, violence, discrimination and health problems such as obesity. Laureus currently supports over 150 projects in around 40 countries. Laureus has national foundations in the United States, Argentina, South Africa, Germany, Switzerland, Spain, Italy and the Netherlands. Its website states it has raised "over €100 million since 2000". The foundation has the support of over 180 Laureus Ambassadors and 60 Laureus World Sport Academy members.

Indiability Foundation[edit]

The Indiability Foundation is dedicated to improving the lives of youth and people with physical disabilities in India. IMAGE (Indian Mixed Ability Group Events), a sport for development and social change program, which works towards the social inclusion of disabled people into mainstream Indian society, was set up in 2005. After beginning life as after-schools sports clubs, allowing disabled and non-disabled students to interact and promote mutual understanding, the project has developed into a community outreach program. IMAGE was able to maximize its social impact by combining learning objectives with sports sessions in the conservative rural areas of Rajasthan where disabled people are most severely ostracised. IMAGE trains groups of young people with disabilities and their non-disabled counterparts, to drive the program. These young people are responsible for delivering sports and games specially designed to carry valuable information such as why education is important, improving sanitation, and explaining how diseases including polio and cholera are spread through open defecation.

The project breaks down barriers between disabled and non-disabled communities through group activities, instills confidence, and allows disabled youth to nurture their inclusion into mainstream society. Subsequently, discriminatory mindsets on disability are challenged as IMAGE members start getting accepted as well-educated, productive, and responsible role models in the isolated communities where the project operates. Furthermore, the participants develop skill sets through their work experience with IMAGE, which they can include on their CVs – a concept that they are made aware of through the IMAGE Employability Workshops.

Sports PLUS Global[edit]

Positive Learning Using Sports is an international global organization that gives educational training to communities and programs through sports and promoting positive human development and social change. Since 1984, Sports PLUS has reached over five thousand children and trained two thousand coaches and educators in camps and after-school programs throughout the United States, Cyprus, Canada and Hong Kong.[9] Its PLUS model has twelve essential steps that communities can use. The steps develop respectful relationships and an understanding of how children learn in groups.

Coaches Across Continents[edit]

Coaches Across Continents is a global leader in the sport for social impact movement. They partner with local organizations to implement their award-winning "Hat-Trick Initiative" based on their Chance to Choice philosophy and self-directed learning methodology that focuses on local social issues such as female empowerment including gender equity, conflict prevention including social inclusion, health and wellness including HIV behavior change, other life skills and fun. In 2016, 4,817 coaches participated in CAC training and received Sport for Social Impact certifications. In addition, nearly 1.5 million children were directly impacted through its 1,698 community partners. In 2016, Coaches Across Continents worked with 90 communities in 28 countries, developing local community leaders on sport for development skills to positively impact and educate their youth.

Cricket for Change[edit]

Cricket for Change, founded in 1981 in the UK, has had thirty years of impacting the lives of disadvantaged children.[15]

Hoops 4 Hope[edit]

Hoops 4 Hope is a non-profit organization in South Africa that uses basketball to help children from underserved areas become proactive leaders in their individual lives and in their communities.[16] It has been in existence for over 15 years. Hoops 4 Hope, in conjunction with its sister organization Soccer 4 Hope, has given 10,000 children the opportunity to participate in sports.[16]

Peace Players International[edit]

Peace Players International has been working for almost a decade "to unite, educate and inspire young people in divided communities through basketball". There are 52,000 children involved in South Africa, Northern Ireland, Israel and the West Bank and Cyprus.[17]

Magic Bus India Foundation[edit]

Magic Bus India Foundation is an organization that works with 300,000 children and 8,000 volunteers using a sport for development curriculum the organisation has developed over 15 years of working in India's slums and villages. The programme begins when a child is 7 years old, follows its journey through childhood and aims to create confident young people, ready for jobs or higher education opportunities. The organisation fosters young adults who they call Community Youth Leaders to deliver the programme and to become role models and mentors for the children.[18] Both the young adults and children come from the same communities, so that a close and constant relationship is built. The young adults are trained to deliver the activity-based curricula we have pioneered, to bring about changes in behaviours and practices. They work to promote gender equality, access to education and health services, as well as developing a child's social and emotional skills. Their other key role is to work with the child’s support structure: the parents, the community at large and local institutions to ensure the change we make results in social, emotional and economic well-being.

The curriculum has a grounding in academic research and is based on classical learning theories. Sporting activities and games are structured into each session to make them fun and appealing to children. Sessions are designed to represent real-life situations and challenges so children are able to relate these back to their daily lives.[19]

Right to Play[edit]

Right to Play is an international organization that has various programs in 15 countries across Africa, Asia and the Middle East with national offices in Canada, Germany, Norway, the Netherlands, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States.[20] It was founded in 1992 and has since created a global network of support and commitment to underprivileged children by Olympic athletes and charitable organizations such as UNICEF. Raising funds, advocating for play base learning and building awareness is some of the things the national offices do for Right To Play. The goal for Right To Play is to teach children in need through educational games.

Rugby League Against Violence[edit]

Rugby League Against Violence[21] (RLAV) is an organisation that operates in both Australia and Papua New Guinea, using rugby league as a vehicle for development. It aims to change attitudes towards women and promote respectful relationships as a way of reducing levels of family, gender-based and domestic violence in both nations.

Moving the Goalposts Kilifi[edit]

Moving the Goalposts (MTG) Kilifi is a girls' football for development organization that was founded in 2002. It works annual with more than 4,000 girls between the ages of 9 and 25 years in rural communities in Kilifi County, Kenya, on issues such as school drop out, teenage pregnancies, early marriages and gender equality in coastal rural Kenya. MTG's interventions are mobilization of girls and young women in football leagues and tournaments, leadership development for girls, peer education on sexual reproductive health and rights, advocacy within communities and co-operation with parents and stakeholders, and educational support and economic empowerment.


Building extensive networks in the private, governmental and non-governmental sectors in addition to composing a solid organisational framework and acquiring the appropriate resources is the recipe to success.[22] There are foundations internationally that offer grants.


  1. ^ a b "Sport, a Tool for Development". Official website of the Olympic Movement. 17 April 2009. Retrieved 17 October 2011.
  2. ^ Kamp, C. F.; Sperlinch, B.; Holmberg, H. C. (2014). "Nurturing The Child". Acta Paediatrica. 103: 709–714.
  3. ^ "Social and Emotional Development". Retrieved 1 November 2013.
  4. ^ "Maximizing the Benefits of Youth Sport". Physical Education, Recreation & Dance. 84 (7): 8–13. August 2013. doi:10.1080/07303084.2013.820112. S2CID 219527219. Retrieved 1 November 2013.
  5. ^ Dixon, Lance. "Coaches teach kids life lessons". Miami Herald. Retrieved 31 March 2017.
  6. ^ Mcnulty, Ian. "Community Impact Series: Up2Us". WWNO. Retrieved 31 March 2017.
  7. ^ Given, Karen. "Trauma-Sensitive Coaching Transforms Violent Neighborhoods". WBUR. Retrieved 31 March 2017.
  8. ^[bare URL]
  9. ^ a b "Intermediaries supporting sports-based youth development programs". 2007. 2007. pp. 107–118. Retrieved 10 November 2013.
  10. ^ "About". CityLax. Retrieved 17 October 2011.
  11. ^ Baker, Jon (30 November 2009). "Project GOAL scores". The Pawtucket Times. Retrieved 21 October 2011.
  12. ^ Shirzadi, Darius (15 October 2011). "Project GOAL" (personal interview). Interviewed by Darius Shirzadi. Providence.
  13. ^ Matt B. Doyle; Eric M. Payne; Eli A. Wolff. Unesco Report: Current Trends in Sport for Development and Peace: A Young Professionals Perspective (Report). p. 9. 97% of participating students have gone on to become the first in their families to attend college.
  14. ^ "About us". Play for Life International. Retrieved 17 October 2011.
  15. ^ "Using cricket to change young lives". Cricket for Change. Retrieved 17 October 2011.
  16. ^ a b "About H4H". Hoops 4 Hope. Retrieved 17 October 2011.
  17. ^ "Mission, Vision and Values". Peace Players International. Retrieved 17 October 2011.
  18. ^ "It's My Time" – via
  19. ^ "Sponsor a Child, Education Ngo, Ngo for Kids, Ngo Help for Education, Ngo in India – Magic Bus".
  20. ^ "Where we work". Right to Play. Retrieved 17 October 2011.
  21. ^ "RLAV PNG". Rugby League Against Violence. Retrieved 20 February 2014.
  22. ^ "Funding Opportunities". Retrieved 11 December 2013.


Beedy, Jeff Positive Learning Using Sports. 1997.

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