Sport for development and peace as contested terrain: place, community, ownership

Publication Type:
Journal Article
International Journal of Sport Policy, 2014, 6 (3), pp. 371 - 387
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© 2013, Taylor & Francis. Under the Sport for Development and Peace (SDP) umbrella, an increasing number of sport projects are staged all over the world to improve the social, cultural, educational or psychological circumstances of marginalized and/or fractured communities. In research on such initiatives, only limited empirical examinations exist that focus specifically on garnering the perspectives of key players from local communities regarding value and impact of SDP. In addressing this issue, our study investigates the local lessons learnt from 13 Football for Peace (F4P) partnership projects that featured a mixture of Jewish, Arab, Bedouin and Circassian communities in Israel. Following an interpretive mode of enquiry, 30 interviews and two focus groups with key stakeholders were conducted, with an emphasis on exploring local experiences. Our findings highlight the diversity of community perspectives in relation to the following themes: values and delivery; engagement and commitment; and scope, regularity and sustainability. Specifically, our analysis illuminates the diverse interpretations and responses that exist in relation to the ethos, meanings and achievements of F4P, and calls for an appreciation of the intricacies, complexities and nuances in the way that the programme (and SDP work more generally) is received. Finally, the article demonstrates how the multiple theorizations and interpretations of community found within academic literature are reproduced and literally played out – but also contested, challenged, rejected and reformulated – in the practice of SDP.
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