Development through sport: Fans and critics of the new player on the field

Date of this Version


Document Type

Conference Paper

Publication Details

Citation only.

Ireland-Piper, D. (2012). Development through sport: Fans and critics of the new player on the field. Paper presented at the Inter-disciplinary colloquium on sport and diplomacy, development & governance, Gold Coast, Australia.

Access the colloquium website.

2013 HERDC submission. FoR code: 180114; 18019

© Copyright Danielle Ireland-Piper, 2012


Literature on international aid and development espouses the principle of ‘do no harm’. In that context, there has been an increased interest in, and incident of, Development through Sport (DTS) initiatives. As with all new players in an old game, the DTS movement has both its fans, and critics. This paper seeks to acknowledge the benefits advocated by fans; engage with its critics; and propose means by which to reconcile the two. In so doing, the distinction is made between ‘Sport Development’, and ‘Development through Sport’. The paper concludes that goodwill, while commendable, is not enough achieve sustainable development goals. Willingly or otherwise, the reality is that DTS operates in a highly politicised environment. Therefore, the DTS movement must engage with the broader development community, and embrace best practice mechanisms. The recipient community must be given an element of ownership and responsibility, and donors should deliver programs in a culturally appropriate manner. Ultimately, the DTS movement must take on board and consider the constructive criticism being offered. However, it should not be discouraged by each and every naysayer. DTS can move forward in its own right, and in its own way, while still embracing the broader discourse on development practice and delivery.

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