Safety and Relational Continuity in Sport for Development With Marginalized Young People

in Journal of Sport Management
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  • 1 Western Sydney University, Parramatta, New South Wales, Australia
  • | 2 Swinburne University of Technology, Hawthorn, Victoria, Australia
  • | 3 Deakin University, Burwood, Victoria, Australia
  • | 4 Monash University, Clayton, Victoria, Australia
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Sport for development (SFD) is often used to engage young people in programs that target a range of issues, such as disengagement or marginalization. However, if designed inappropriately, SFD can do more harm than good by reinforcing social divides or past trauma. Consequently, scholars suggest that future research should delve beyond program impacts and examine the importance of safe spaces within SFD programs. In light of this, we explored how program design, delivery, and staffing can impact the creation and maintenance of a safe space and continuity in an SFD program targeting young people and how this can change over time. Adopting an ethnographic approach, findings highlighted how safety and relational continuity was fostered via social networks, support, belonging, and external opportunities. Conversely, instability and discontinuity became an issue with staff departures and participants’ personal difficulties.

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