There is a growing body of research that has started to carefully consider the increased presence of girls and women in sport-for-development (SFD). The purpose of this study was to contribute to contextual understandings of empowerment by providing a nuanced reading of micro-level interactions that can disrupt traditional gendered relations. Our research explored the emerging outcomes of a SFD program in Papua New Guinea targeted at young women. We hope to foster a greater understanding of women’s experiences in constrained sociocultural contexts and make sense of the lived reality of doing sport-based development work. The results of our qualitative work demonstrate the importance of exploring nuanced, relational, and embodied processes occurring in day-to-day situations that can lead to transformative change in localized settings.
Emma Seal and Emma Sherry
Heath McDonald and Emma Sherry
When assessing board performance, customers are often overlooked as a stakeholder group. Yet, dissatisfied customers have successfully acted to have boards removed, and we have seen this scenario occur repeatedly among professional sport organizations governed by boards. The purpose of this research was to identify the factors affecting customer perceptions of sport club board performance, and guide organizations in the management of those perceptions. After extensive qualitative research, over 20,000 season ticket holders (STHs) from 14 different professional sport clubs were surveyed. The results suggest that a combination of overt performance measures (e.g., profits) and subjective, nonfinancial measures (e.g., feelings of inclusion) are used by customers to assess sport boards. Overall perceptions of the board directly influence customer satisfaction, and are strongly correlated with on-field performance and customer inclusion, suggesting boards are perceived to have a role to play in both areas. Perceptions of board performance are, therefore, worth managing in a holistic manner, balancing strong financial and club management with a particular emphasis on inclusive practices.
Katherine Raw, Emma Sherry, and Katie Rowe
Despite recent advances in sport-for-development (SFD) literature, few scholars have empirically examined organizational hybridity in SFD contexts. This is despite hybrid organizational approaches becoming increasingly common in the delivery of SFD initiatives. Opportunities exist for researchers to build knowledge regarding SFD hybrids, particularly those which operate in professional sport contexts. In this research, we examine an SFD organization, delivered by a professional sport team, which operates under a hybrid structure. A longitudinal qualitative case study design was employed, and findings demonstrate how the SFD organization, which presents a practical example of organizational hybridity, evolved over time. Drawing upon Svensson typologies of SFD hybrids, results illustrate how the organization transformed from a differentiated hybrid into a dysfunctional hybrid, under the influence of funding opportunities and institutional logics. Through the present study, we build upon theoretical understandings of SFD hybrids and offer practical insight into the nuances of SFD hybrids delivered in professional sport contexts.
Nico Schulenkorf, Emma Sherry, and Katie Rowe
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.
Emma Sherry, Nico Schulenkorf, Emma Seal, Matthew Nicholson, and Russell Hoye
As the field of sport-for-development (SFD) has developed, there has been increasing debate over the ability of SFD programs to effect lasting structural change on target communities. Highlighting the barriers to SFD program delivery in five Pacific Island nations, in this paper we argue that numerous challenges emerging at macro-, meso-, and microlevels must be explored, understood, and accounted for to enact structural change. Building on thematic findings from our empirical cross-nation research project, we discuss the importance of addressing SFD challenges at all levels of society to ensure that interventions are appropriately tailored for the specific and often divergent sociocultural contexts in the Pacific Islands region. We argue for a more holistic approach to planning, management, and evaluation when attempting to deliver structural change through sport.
Katherine Raw, Emma Sherry, Katie Rowe, and Shelley Turner
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.
Hannah Macdougall, Paul O’Halloran, Nora Shields, and Emma Sherry
This systematic review included 12 studies that compared the well-being of Para and Olympic sport athletes. Meta-analyses revealed that Para athletes, compared with Olympic sport athletes, had lower levels of self-acceptance, indicated by athletic identity, d = -0.47, 95% confidence interval (CI) [-0.77, -0.16], and body-image perceptions, d = -0.33, 95% CI [-0.59, -0.07], and differed from Olympic sport athletes in terms of their motivation, indicated by a greater mastery-oriented climate, d = 0.74, 95% CI [0.46, 1.03]. Given an inability to pool the remaining data for meta-analysis, individual standardized mean differences were calculated for other dimensions of psychological and subjective well-being. The results have implications for professionals and coaches aiming to facilitate the well-being needs of athletes under their care. Future research would benefit from incorporating established models of well-being based on theoretical rationale combined with rigorous study designs.
Sophie Knights, Emma Sherry, Mandy Ruddock-Hudson, and Paul O’Halloran
The purpose of this research was to explore the experience of transition and life after sport in a group of retired professional athletes. A total of 45 retired athletes from three national football leagues took part in semistructured interviews. Two overarching themes emerged from the data analysis: (a) preparing for transition and planning for retirement and (b) supportive environment. For athletes in this study, four main factors were identified as critical to promoting a positive transition. The nature of the transition also directly affected athletes’ experience of retirement from sport and, thus, their experience of flourishing in life after sport. The majority of participants in this study indicated that they lacked support from their sporting club and governing bodies both during their transition and in retirement. Planning for retirement and preparing for the future positively affected their ability to flourish in retirement. Recommendations for sport managers and athlete support services are provided.
Hannah Macdougall, Paul O’Halloran, Emma Sherry, and Nora Shields
The well-being needs and strengths of para-athletes in a global and sport-specific context were investigated across subjective psychological, social, and physical health and well-being dimensions. Data were drawn from (a) semistructured interviews with Australian para-athletes (n = 23), (b) a focus group with the Australian Paralympic Committee (n = 9), and (c) a confirmatory para-athlete focus group (n = 8). The well-being needs and strengths of para-athletes differed across gender, sport, level of competition, and nature of impairment. Well-being needs were an interaction between physical pain, emotional regulation, lacking purpose outside of sport, and a lack of self-acceptance, especially for athletes with acquired impairments. Well-being strengths were perceived to increase as athletes increased their level of competition, and included personal growth, optimism, strong social support networks, and contributing to multiple communities. The importance of well-being as a multidimensional concept within the global and sport-specific context for para-athletes is discussed.
Lewis Keane, Emma Sherry, Nico Schulenkorf, Joel Negin, Ding Ding, Adrian Bauman, Edward Jegasothy, and Justin Richards
Background: The purpose of this paper was to identify personal, social, and environmental mediators of recreational physical activity (PA) in a 6-month netball-based intervention for women and girls in Tonga. Methods: Tonga Netball’s “low-engagement village program” was implemented in 10 villages and aimed to increase the recreational PA levels in women and girls through a comprehensive, structured community-level netball program addressing key barriers to participation. In a mixed-methods approach, these mediating barriers were identified through qualitative interviews based on the socioecological model. Quantitative measures for mediators and recreational PA were then developed, and data from 301 women and girls were collected. Standard mediation analyses methods were then applied. Results: Program participation appeared to significantly increase PA levels. Statistically significant personal mediators were body issues, preferring competitions, and clothing. Social mediators were support from sports council, community leaders, friends, and church. Environmental mediators were travel time and access to balls, bibs, and umpires. Conclusion: A comprehensive community-level program addressing key participation barriers can increase recreational PA among women and girls in Tonga. Triangulating these results with mediation analyses of variables on the causal pathway can strengthen our understanding of causation and inform funding prioritization for critical program components in similar contexts.