How Sport Can Help Communities

Participation in sports is inherently linked to community development programmes– see Engaging Community.The values that sport enshrines – inclusion, teamwork, and personal achievement – build a strong foundation for personal and community growth. This is predominantly important during conflict and post-conflict times as communities are often torn apart and need to rebuild emotionally and socially.

Girls and women are an integral part of peace-building efforts in conflict and post-conflict areas. Survivors of GBV can become real agents of change within their community. Of the thirty-nine conflicts that have occured in the past 10 years, only eight are wholly new. Thirty-one are relapses of conflicts that were never completely resolved. It is not an accident that most of these conflicts have transpired in societies where women had little or no power and were omitted from the process of navigating and implementing the peace.

Well-designed sport programmes focusing on healthy development; integrated with other community level interventions; and involving parents, teachers, and peers can positively affect the lives of all those involved. Sport can help bridge divisions between groups and create unity and tolerance. In Rwanda, the participants speak openly about their history and about the injustices they suffered. “We speak one language, and we are all united. We are all Rwandans, and we move forward together.” (AKWOS) This is the type of openness and understanding that sport can cultivate.

Programmatic Tip

Interventions in conflict/post-conflict situations are best accomplished via group experiences in community settings where more individuals can be helped in the quickest manner through the collective support of the group. In situations where there are mass survivors of GBV, individual interventions may not be as effective.

Programmatic Tip

Encourage multi-sectoral interventions at multiple levels. Identify and mobilize appropriate existing resources in the community, such as women’s groups, religious leaders, and community services programmes. Carry out research to identify local programmes active in the area of gender-based violence/sport and decide strategically on a course of action. Work collaboratively with these programmes and with organisations from various sectors (police, judiciary, social support, etc.). It may be useful to map local organisations and create a resource that can be assessed easily and efficiently.

Programmatic Tip: Freephone number

In 2005, the Rwandan government and National Police established a Gender Desk in their fight against GBV. The creation of a Helpline makes it easier for individuals suffering from GBV find their voice. 

Why not talk to your local government representative about setting up a helpline in your country? Collaboration between local organisations and local governments can be essential for both improving the community response to GBV and helping to reduce levels of violence in the long term. Talk to and involve the media. Make it known that a service like this can help those who have experienced or who are experiencing GBV. The key solutions to preventing GBV in your country are increasing public awareness about GBV issues; improving trust; mutual respect; and cooperation between the police, the community, women associations, and NGOs.

Benefits The Entire Family

Programmatic Tip A well-designed sport programme not only helps survivors of GBV on an individual level, but also extends the services to family members. Observations from...

Promotes Reconciliation

What is Reconciliation? "Individuals who have been brutalized in any context need to reach some form of reconciliation with the violence that they have suffered in order to...

Supports Peace-building

In post-conflict environments such as South Africa, sport has been used effectively to promote peace between divided groups. Sport is particularly suited for reflecting,...

Sport As A Platform

When survivors of GBV are encouraged to play a meaningful part in the planning and implementation of programmes, they rise above their perceived vulnerabilities. When women...