At the Starting Line

09/11/2011 08:00


Everything is ready for the upcoming conference Sport as a Mediator between Cultures. Do not miss it!


The programme of the conference predicts exciting and constructive discussion around the various aspects of sport for development and peace. Particularly, the four keynote speakers will show with their presentations, providing a deeper understanding of how sport can contribute to bridging cultural differences in order to achieve peace. All with an academic background, the speakers share a profound research interest in this subject area, demonstrated by scientific publications on the topic. Although they are aware of the importance of the theoretical and philosophic debate of how sport can drive a positive change in the society as well as help in the peace-building never-ending process, their speeches will provide a very pragmatic analysis of the theme.


Fred Coalter, University of Stirling, UK, is going to argue that, if sport-for-development is to advance, it is necessary to stop thinking that sport positively affects all people. Instead, he says, one should start regarding sport and physical activities as sets of relationships and experiences which may impact various types of people in a variety of ways. In addition, it is necessary to better understand the nature and causes of the issues which are addressed. Illustrating examples of extensive research in Africa, India and the UK, such an approach would help formulate realistic outcomes and provide the basis for formative, rather than summative (i.e. outcome), evaluation. Applying such a model may consequently enrich and increase the effectiveness of sport-for-development programmes.


As second keynote speaker, Ulrike Burrmann, Technical University of Dortmund, Germany, will talk about how sport can contribute to the integration of migrants. According to her perspective, sport is an open and inclusive social context where migrants can find access and easily join communities. Moreover, she says, sport speaks an international language: most of the games and competitions rules are well known and participation in sporting activities does not require advanced language skills. Providing the example of research she conducted in Germany, Burrmann will demonstrate how significant and strong a vector of integration sport can be.


John Sugden, sport sociologist at Brighton University, UK, will talk about how inter-community sporting intervention can influence public policy and promote social and political change in deeply divided societies. The use of sport in a wide variety of health and welfare as well as conflict-resolution and peace-building programmes is one of the fastest growing practices in the voluntary and non-government development sectors. According to him, by “placing discrete, grass-root projects under a microscope and using a wide variety of monitoring and evaluation models and research tools, it is relatively easy to shed some light on whether the initiative is making a difference in a local context, usually drawing broadly positive conclusions. It is far more difficult to demonstrate any level of sustained impact beyond the boundaries of such microscopic interventions”. On the basis of this, a new way of thinking about the sport for development and peace movement therefore seems to be needed: “one that emphasises the importance of putting in place embodied mechanisms and networks that facilitate connectivity between local, regional, national and international political actors and policy makers. A model that can be adapted, adopted and used flexibly as an underpinning modus operandi by those who wish to use sport or any other civil society activity as a mediator between cultures in societies in conflict”. Based on his knowledge and experience from three decades of research and practical experience in this field, Sugden will introduce such modules.


Finally, Cora Burnett, University of Johannesburg, South Africa, will analyse the local agencies’ role in the sport-for-development and research fields. “While the global agencies set agendas for sport-for-development that inspired academics to vigorously contribute to an emerging body of scientific knowledge, practitioners were somehow caught in a no-voice land”, she says. Hence, Burnett will talk about how improved local research capability affects the understanding of the local context, also illustrating her analysis of the cross-cultural research project of the Youth Development through Football (YDF) programme, implemented by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) in 9 African countries. As a consequence, an improved awareness of sport for a certain community and its potential for further social development and peace-building will be vitally important in order to establish a series of constructive actions that will help to increase the effectiveness of the intervention.


For further information and registration, please click here


More information about the keynote presentations is available here