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Developing communities through sport.

Updated on April 30, 2015


Developing communities through sport.

One of the days that will stick to history of human beings, especially Africans, is the day the late first black president of South Africa showed the world how a divided nation can be united through sport. Nelson Mandela used the Rugby World Cup final in 1995 to unite South Africa. What is imperative in what he did was to show that sport is a tool that can chant the development agenda. From a grass-root level, sport can be a tool that changes the individual, the community and the nation at large.

understanding sport

Sport, as a word dates back to 1300 where the English meaning viewed it as “anything humans find amusing or entertaining”. What is probably evident in this definition is the understanding or view of the activity as bringing happiness to human beings. It introduces one of the key aspects of sport, which is to entertain. NSARPR advances a perspective that can also deepen the understanding of sport today. They list three things that define sport in the current world;

√ It involves individual or team performance being compared to another individual or team. It can also incorporate one individual’s performance being compared to their previous recognised performance or benchmark.

√ The achievement of the performances are defined under known circumstances, these include use of equipment, time and space limitations and how the activity is conducted.

√ It has to have an overseer of the process which will be typically an organisation.

While these three pointers clearly define sport today, sport has turned into a career for some people and a business for others. All these scenarios build on highlighting how sport can be a tool for development.

Sport as a tool for development

There are many cited advantages of sport that can even be extracted from the old meaning of sport, through to the advancement of what it is today. Among the many advantages of the activity, here are some of the immediate benefits that sport can bring to any society;

1. Exercise of the mind

While many people agree that education is imperative for the development of any society, sports can be an accelerator towards an individual’s performance in class. The continuous memorization of tactics, rules and regulations of an activity, the repeating and learning done in sporting activities are all fundamental skillset that relevant to a class setup. Hence, sport stimulates the mind and helps one get ready for classwork, tackling it with ease.

2. Team Synergy and effective communication

The common notion that ‘divided we fall, united we stand’ is true in as far as communities can be taught self-sustainability and subsequently, development. Sports has an emphasis on working together as a team with other indirect individuals like the managers, the coach, the team of supporters. In a typical sporting game, non-communication with team members can be lead to a loose. Both these are important skills in any society, from a grassroots level. There are some communities in Africa that have that spirit and have developed their communities, not because of handouts but because of the unity among members. They get together to fight for a common cause.

3. The health factor in sports

A basic principle is that the death of fellow community members is always not welcome. It eliminates the important players in the community hence crippling its development. Imagine if Plato was still alive, or any of the great thinkers, maybe some of the problems we face today may be history. Most diseases that affect the societies today can well be minimised or eliminated through sport, it improves one’s fitness and weight goals, hence eliminating the risk of cancer for instance, even the HIV infected individuals can well utilise sport to stay healthy. A team encourages each other to go to the gym for instance which is important for one’s health.

4. Career alternative

Sportsmen are one of the richest in the world, getting paid thousands of dollars each month. With escalating unemployment rates, sport becomes a solution to many individuals who benefit directly and indirectly. Also, the biggest sporting event like FIFA help countries get investment to build or renovate infrastructure, most of the modern stadiums in South Africa currently are as a direct result of hosting the FIFA in 2010, and most people benefitted through employment.


Only a few select benefits have been highlighted here, sport has even far reaching benefits that keep counting. While there are downsides of commercialising it, it brings with it far more benefits. As a thumb rule, it is arguable that sports, rightly invested in, can have immense benefits to any developing economy, thus third world countries need to consider it also.


Anon., 2015. Heath Care. [Online] Available at: [Accessed 26 April 2015].

Richards, R. D., 2015. Clearinghouse for Sport. [Online] Available at: [Accessed 26 April 2015].


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