Sport-for-development: A level playing field?

Janet Njelesani, Barbara E. Gibson, Debra Cameron, Stephanie Nixon, Helene Polatajko

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In the burgeoning field of sport-for-development, the benefits of participation for youths have been widely discussed. However, it has also been noted that some youth are excluded based on ability, location, economic means, and gender and are thus not participating. We considered that this might be an issue of ideologies. Thus, it was the purpose of this study to use a critical occupational approach to explore how sport-for-development ideologies in Zambia shape the participation of young people. Drawing on empirical data gathered from five case studies of sport-for-development organizations in Lusaka, Zambia, three themes were identified that describe ideological beliefs within the Zambian sport-for-development context. The first, sport benefits all, contributed to the practice of sport being used uncritically as an activity for all youth. The second, good people do, perpetuated what were considered acceptable activities that boys and girls could do in the local context. Finally, a belief that sport is the way out privileged boys who play football as well as athletic non-disabled boys in opposition to girls, poor youths, rural youths, and girls and boys with disabilities. Together these beliefs have contributed to successes (careers in sport) and shortcomings (occupational injustices) associated with the sport-for-development phenomenon.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number12
JournalForum Qualitative Sozialforschung
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2015


  • Critical occupational approach
  • Occupation
  • Qualitative case study
  • Sport-for-development
  • Zambia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Social Sciences


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