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SSCN / RESEARCH  / Social value of sport in South Africa

Social value of sport in South Africa


Following recent global stakeholder configurations, policy frameworks and strife for multi-levelled and agency policy coherence within the Sport for Development and Peace sector, the Kazan Action Plan (2017) calls for evidence-informed decision-making though building a case for sport in playing a part in sustainable development as envisaged by the UN Sustainable Development Goals. As Sport and Recreation South Africa is in the process of updating the 2009 Case for Sport and Recreation document it is deemed timely that academic discourse of evidence production should be addressed. This paper provides a synopsis of robust evidence around the social impact of sport relating to global strategic imperatives emanating for UN agencies (particularly UNICEF and UNESCO), regional and national public sport structures. Contextual realities further present a filter for relevant data and arguments to capture a meaningful body of knowledge from which decision- makers can draw significant insights. The social role of sport within national government priorities in South Africa features phenomena related to nation-building, cohesion and social transformation with relevance to the ‘panacea proposition’ of sport. The methodological rigor, critical scrutiny, programme theories and the complexity of layering realities should drive the profiling of an evidence base that would also serve a decolonised approach towards theory-building.


This paper taps into a watershed phase in the global-local articulation of the Sport for Development and Peace (SDP) movement – a transition from the initial explosion of attracting multiple stakeholders for policy development, funding and implementation to a search for synergies at all levels of engagement (Collison et al. 2018; Kidd 2008). Since 2005, SDP gained momentum with the appointment of a United Nations Special Advisor, the establishment of a UN Office for Sport, Development and Peace (UNOSDP) and Sport for Development and Peace International Working Group (SDP IWG) (UN 2008). By 2015, the SDP sector lost momentum and represented a rather complex landscape of thousands of entrepreneurs and agencies with policies, funding or implementing SDP programmes developed and delivered in silos that posed challenges for sustainable development and contextual relevance (Sportanddev.org 2017).

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