In neighbourhoods and communities with low living conditions, it is increasingly believed that sport has the potential to reach a large number of people and that it can be used as a vehicle to address a variety of social problems such as poverty as well as to achieve non-sport social and developmental objectives. The rhetoric, policies and initiatives that have used sport for ‘social change’ and ‘development’ became known as ‘Sport for Development’ (SfD).
However, underlying the dominant SfD discourse, there are a number of problematic assumptions that corresponds with the broader societal discourses about these young people, their problems and their needs. An accurate needs analysis is, nevertheless, essential for an effective and efficient approach to the problems that young people face, and therefore also through SfD.
This doctoral study departed from a critical sociological perspective in order to examine how and to what extent SfD initiatives can contribute to development and social change and in what way this can be monitored, evaluated and supported.
Six urban SfD initiatives were investigated in three cities: Brussels Boxing Academy, Brussels Jiu-Jitsu Academy, Antwerp Wolf Pack, City Pirates Antwerp, Kras Sport Antwerp and Opboksen Genk. These initiatives are experts in the field of sport for development and should be recognised for it.