Development through sport: Building social capital in disadvantaged communities

Traditional delivery of sport development programs, especially at the community level, faces particular challenges under neoliberal ideology. While several issues are evident, this paper addresses only the issue of development through sport for disadvantaged communities. It reviews models where sport was employed to develop better community and citizen life outcomes and to deal with social issues previously addressed through “welfare state” processes. These new models flow out of neoliberalist state agendas to assist in fostering social inclusion and in building positive social capital in disadvantaged communities. Examples from England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Canada are analysed and the implications for the Australian context are discussed. The discussion focuses on best practice success factors such as policy and strategy, partnerships, places and spaces, community/social development, evaluation and monitoring and sustainability. The role of traditional sports clubs and local government in delivering social inclusion programs and the emerging provision of community based sport activities by community/social development organisations is detailed. The implications for sport management, in terms of community development, community sport development and sport policy, are also discussed.