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Despite the significant increase of published research in sport-for-development (SFD), to date there have been no attempts to rigorously review and synthesize scholarly contributions in this area. To address this issue, we conducted an integrative review of SFD literature to portray an overarching and holistic picture of the field. Through a comprehensive literature analysis following Whittemore and Knafl’s (2005) five-step process, we provide evidence of the status quo of current SFD research foci, authorship, geographical contexts, theoretical frameworks, sport activity, level of development, methodologies, methods, and key research findings. Our study shows an increasing trend of journal publications since 2000, with a strong focus on social and educational outcomes related to youth sport and with football (soccer) as the most common activity. A large majority of SFD research has been conducted at the community level, where qualitative approaches are dominant. The geographical contexts of authorship and study location present an interesting paradox: Although the majority of SFD projects are carried out in Africa, Asia, and Latin America, 90% of SFD authors are based in North America, Europe, and Australia. We conclude our study by providing new perspectives on key issues in SFD and by outlining current research and theoretical gaps that provide the basis for future scholarly inquiry.
Nico Schulenkorf is with the University of Technology Sydney, Sydney, Australia. Emma Sherry is with the Centre for Sport and Social Impact, La Trobe University, Bundoora, Australia. Katie Rowe is with Deakin University, Burwood, Australia.