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How Sport for Development and Peace Works (Pt. IV)

Pic: blog.drstankovich.com
Part IV of our series on how sport for development and peace works/

EXAMPLE 4: SPORT CAN BE USED AS A FOCAL POINT

In many societies sports clubs are used as central points for the community. Not only can they be the site of actual sporting activity, which in itself brings the community together, the location is often seen as a proxy space for both formal and informal community gatherings.

Sport, therefore, can act as a kind of motivator, a centripetal force for disconnected communities, which brings individuals together to share a common, fun, interest.

This may engender a sense of motivation or even pride among disadvantaged communities.

In practice, this means that sports clubs can be readily utilised to act as spaces for both curriculum and community education (such as physical and mental health care) or as meeting spaces for competing groups.

The actual practice of sport can act to lighten moods and expend energy which might otherwise be used to fight or to foment disputes. The shared nature of sports like football can act to link individual and the groups they populate and to smooth the way for a breaking down barriers and perceived differences.

In situations of conflict, sport can be seen as a central space where factions can co-mingle, and even compete, in a shared space and under agreed rules. Sport can provide a reason for meetings and gatherings and can be the basis for beginning peace talks or reconciliation processes.

In certain cases, disadvantaged groups can find some sense of purpose and direction in sport, as well as much needed dignity and pride in their communities and in themselves. For refugees or for those who for ethnically-based, gender-based or due to other prejudices are somehow marginalised, sport can act as a sub-conscious leveller, an educator and a socialiser.

In individual cases, sport can provide a means of expression and a proxy vehicle for which confidence and self-belief can be discovered and enhanced, thus bolstering a healthy education and social development process.

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