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Sport for Social Change. A Catalyst for Sustainable Development in the Global South?

Updated: Apr 18


In countries like Sierra Leone, a nation rebuilding from the ashes of a brutal civil war, and that faces challenges associated with poverty, gender inequality, and limited access to education, grassroots sports for development programs are fostering efforts to mitigate these issues at the local level. In manifesting through policy and practice, many states are working hard to meet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG's), underwritten by all UN member states between the Millennium through to the present day.


Social change is a key pillar of many initiatives in meeting the Global Goals, and sport has emerged as an effective vehicle in this effort. Our programmes not only encourage girls to participate in sports but also provide a protected environment where they can thrive. In embracing girls participation in sport, outcomes can be greatly maximised when measured against the universally accepted standards of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In meeting these standards, communities are fostering progress towards a brighter future for youth in our programme settings, often in very challenging contexts.


Such contexts demand a holistic, community-led approach, harnessing and developing skills and local knowledge, stakeholder inclusion, and standard setting that meets the widely accepted principals of neutrality and do no harm. The Global Goals are the most universally agreed standards, signed by all United Nations member states.






Gender Equality: In many parts of the world, girls often face barriers to participation in sports due to cultural norms and societal expectations. By promoting gender equality in sports, our interventions aim to enable girls, as well as boys to challenge stereotypes, assert and understand children's and human rights at the individual level, and view life opportunities through the same lens. Through equal access to resources and opportunities, girls are better equipped to grasp potential and contribute to a more equitable society. Gender equality is not the preserve for one gender; all genders are participants in shifting social change. It is thereby vital to our programmes that boys as well as girls are equally included in the conversation.


Poverty Alleviation: One of our fundamental objectives is to help mitigate poverty in our communities. By unlocking the opportunity for girls to engage in sports, our young people develop skills, discipline, and resilience. These attributes translate into valuable life skills that can help to break the cycle of poverty. Through mentorship and training, girls gain the confidence to complete secondary education, contributing to economic growth and poverty reduction in their communities.


Zero Hunger: Malnutrition remains a pressing issue in some of our poorest and underdeveloped regions. Climate change and access to arable land and fresh water is dramatically impacting food security in some of our most at risk communities, particularly among children and adolescents.

It is essential that our beneficiaries are provided with unconditional access to nutritious meals and snacks, ensuring they have the energy and nourishment needed to participate fully in sports activities, as well as school.

Our health and nutrition workshops also help in sensitisation efforts within our communities, on the importance of healthy eating.


We recognise that food security underpins literacy. In addressing hunger and malnutrition, the program lays a foundation for sustainable development in communities.




Access to Quality Education: Education is a cornerstone of development, yet many girls in Sierra Leone face obstacles to accessing quality education. In recognising the role of education in breaking cycles of poverty and inequality, we sponsor school costs, and the provision of academic support, that enables girls to grasp their full potential and to dream as big as the boys. We believe that access to sport, nutrition and education are holistically connected, and by promoting education as a pathway to empowerment, we aim to foster sustainable development and lifelong opportunities for girls in Sierra Leone as a key pillar of our Theory of Change.


Reduced Inequalities: In a regions marked by deep-rooted inequalities, we believe that sports for development programs, delivered at the local level, serve as a catalyst for social change. By providing equal opportunities for girls from very diverse backgrounds to participate in sports, sport helps to promote inclusion and cohesion. Regardless of socioeconomic status, religious or ethnic identity, girls come together on the field, fostering friendships and mutual respect. Through the soft power of our community led sports interventions, the program model addresses systemic barriers to equality, advocating for policies and practices that uphold the rights of all girls. By reducing inequalities and promoting social cohesion, we believe that the program builds a more inclusive and resilient society for future generations.


Sports for development at the grassroots is not just about playing games; it's about transforming lives and communities. By enabling better access to opportunities, such as the provision of sports in protected settings, programmes like ours work to meet multiple Sustainable Development Goals, from poverty alleviation to gender equality.


To read more about the UN Global Goals, click below: -




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