ASSOCIATED SPORTS: All
CAUSES SERVED: Athletics, Children and Youth, Community, Disability Issues, Education, Health, Human Rights, Peace, Poverty, Race & Equality, Special Needs, Women's Issues
AGE GROUPS SERVED: All
Forward. By definition, the word represents movement, progress, direction – all of which are qualities embodied within organizations throughout the Sport for Development sector. For SportForward it also represents the movement they’ve helped to create over the past 25 years by providing sports programming for communities in-need in 65 countries around the globe. SportForward’s programs use sport as a developmental tool to address key issues in education, health & hygiene, gender and disability awareness & inclusion, and peace building. As these issues continue to be challenges found around the world, their programs have reached thousands of youth and adults, and worked to bridge the divide and foster stronger communities.
We asked SportForward for some perspective on where they’ve been over those 25 years, where the sector is headed and what we can do collectively to keep moving, forward.
A big thanks to LaFern Cusack and ESPN LA 710 for having me on the radio this past weekend to talk about using sports as a platform for social good. LaFern is the long time host and producer of ESPN LA’s public affairs show "The Experience” where she dives into a wide range of topics at the intersection of sports and society, locally as well as a nationally.
Check out my full interview on the ESPN 710 website or listen via their Podcast or iTunes
And follow LaFern on Twitter @LaFernCusack
On the eve of the World Cup last week, we were thrilled to host sports and entertainment industry professionals from around Southern California who gathered to celebrate the big event and share in their passion for soccer as a platform for social good. Along with our co-hosts Sports Studio, we welcomed supporters representing countries from around the globe including Mexico, Italy, Germany, Columbia, Argentina, Brazil and the USA, making their predictions for early exits (Spain!) and deep runs (Costa Rica?) into the knockout round.
Joining us on the night were several amazing nonprofit soccer organizations and social enterprise brands, each with their own unique approach to using the "beautiful game" as a platform for change...
"What exactly is a sports nonprofit organization?"
In the first segment of this series, I gave a quick overview of sports programming for underserved groups, including sports for people with disabilities and programs for economically disadvantaged communities. Here, I’m focusing on sports programming that operates as a developmental platform to tackle specific social issues. These programs are similar, as both are rooted in providing a sport or activity, however the end goal here is a bit different. In the development space, programs have specific outcomes attached to their activities such as supporting literacy and education, disease awareness and prevention, or peace building and reconciliation, and the sports activity is central to initiating that change.
While many on-going sport for development initiatives are implemented around the world - the UN Office of Sport for Development and Peace, Right to Play, UNICEF, and USAID all work on a global level to deliver sports programming as a developmental platform - in this category we also find programs established to address immediate issues that arise during a humanitarian crisis, natural disasters and in conflict/post-conflict zones. There are several very effectie programs still on the ground today in places like Haiti, Pakistan and Sudan, as well as here in the US in Oklahoma, New Orleans and the Tri-State area.
What’s truly unique in this category are how various sports are used and different approaches taken to tackle a similar problem. For example, the issue of homelessness has been effectively addressed through a team sport like soccer and an individual pursuit like running. While these programs may differ in program delivery, scale, timing and resource needs, the end goal is the same - ending homelessness.
Here are a few examples of sports programming as a developmental tool:
HOMELESS WORLD CUP
ASSOCIATED SPORTS: Football (Soccer)
CAUSES SERVED: Community, Homelessness, Poverty
AGE GROUPS SERVED: All
The Homeless World Cup exists to promote social integration through football and to create fresh, innovative strategies to end homelessness and poverty.
Every year, the Homeless World Cup, a world-class, international football tournament unites teams of homeless players from all 5 continents of the world. The tournament has grown from 18 nations at the first Graz 2003 Homeless World Cup to 64 at the Rio 2010 Homeless World Cup in September of this year. Over 70% of players experience a significant life change – they come off drugs, alcohol, improve their health and self esteem, repair relationships, get jobs, homes, education, training, become football players, coaches and social entrepreneurs. Nearly 100,000 homeless men and women have benefited and there are now grassroots football programs working with homeless people all year round in over 70 nations. Now we are developing these football programs to provide leadership and coaching to enable more homeless people to these crucial take steps away from the streets.