chapter  23
14 Pages

Methodologies for evaluating the use of sport for development in post-conflict contexts

Looking back over the years on publications in academic journals or on the International Platform on Sport and Development (, the websites of NGOs, sport federations and also non-sporting organisations we observe an increasing interest taken in sport for development. Unfortunately, the increasing use of sport activities in development projects is not sufficiently represented in scientific research, and rigorous project evaluation is still scarce. In addition, more critical reflection is needed, as at times we forget the ambivalent nature of sport, which is how it can promote, for example, inclusion and peace as well as exclusion and violence (Coakley, 2007, 2011; Coalter, 2007b, 2010; Giulianotti, 2010; Giulianotti and Armstrong, 2011; Hartmann and Kwauk, 2011; Jarvie, 2011; Kay, 2009; Levermore, 2011; Levermore and Beacom, 2012; Ley and Rato Barrio, 2010). Furthermore, post-conflict contexts have their own particular burden and peculiarities that need to be addressed. Conflicts often destroy in a complex, traumatic and long-lasting way individuals, families, communities, and social, economic, political and cultural resources and networks. Most often, the consequences of conflicts are evident over long periods of time, underlying reasons are unaddressed, and conflicts stay latent or even escalate into violence again. In these situations, the population is more vulnerable to abuse and manipulation. For example, in Guatemala the history of racism and discrimination suffered particularly by the Mayan population has been put behind them in its most brutal and overt form (for example, the systematic massacres in the 1980s during the civil war); however, it still exists in more subtle forms. Women, in particular, have been the direct target of violence that aimed to destroy communities at their most intimate point. They still are one of the most affected and targeted groups in the population suffering from continuous incidents of violence and discrimination, enacted with impunity, that create a general atmosphere of fear. Community cohesion and mutual support structures are destroyed as a result of the conflict and ongoing discrimination (Ley, 2009). Education has suffered not only in quality and in terms of the priority given to it during the conflict, but also from abuses and social-political influences that aim to control the people, to maintain or obtain power, and have the effect of destroying communities, families and lives. As a consequence, youth growing up and educated in conflict or post-conflict contexts are affected

by the lived experiences, their thoughts manipulated and oppressed, with little evidence of opportunities to construct a positive future (Ley, 2009; Rato Barrio, 2009). In a post-conflict context, sport is used in various ways, for example, in community empowerment, education and awareness creation, crime reduction, social inclusion, counselling, promotion of mental health and well-being, conflict transformation, reconciliation and peace building, or socio-economic development. A wide range of different approaches through sport are used according to the objectives in each development project that can be categorised as predominantly professional, recreational, educational, preventive or therapeutic approaches. Different strategies can be identified, including for example: pedagogical methodologies; personal and community empowerment through capacity building, participatory processes, life skills and leadership training; network building; organising sport events, leagues and regular training; building of teams, spaces and platforms for interaction; and peer education. The trainers and facilitators are considered to play a crucial role in most of the projects. Other key aspects of projects in this context have been the local leadership and ownership of the initiative, context-specificity of the initiative and the provision of accessible, protected and safe environments (Rato Barrio and Ley, 2010b). As a tool, sport is mostly not used in isolation, rather it is combined with other games, movement and body-centred activities or techniques. According to the focus on ‘plus sport’ or ‘sport plus’ (Coalter, 2006), these tools are also combined more or less intensively with other interventions and recreational, educational, preventive and therapeutic tools, for example, group discussions, self-supporting groups, painting, community service, peer education, etc. Sport most often makes use of tools from various disciplines, as physiological and psychosocial processes are determinants for the success of sport. In fact, interdisciplinary and holistic approaches and networking are required to respond to the complex and multidimensional context of conflict and violence. Despite the increasing scientific interest, evidence about the effectiveness and mediating processes in sport for development is missing in this context.