The Power of Sport for Good – Calacus White Paper 2023

December 21, 2023

We all understand the power of sport to bring people together.

As Nelson Mandela put it at the inaugural Laureus World Sports Awards in Monaco: “Sport has the power to change the world. It has the power to inspire. It has the power to unite people in a way that little else does.

“It speaks to youth in a language they understand. Sport can create hope where once there was only despair. It is more powerful than governments in breaking down racial barriers. It laughs in the face of all types of discrimination.”

Sport goes beyond fitness and competition. It teaches respect, focus, self-discipline, and improves mental as well as physical health.

After the past few challenging years, people young and old have benefited from the opportunities that sport provides to improve and enhance their lives and, in turn, benefit society as a whole.

As the latest Laureus report says, Sport for Good activity encourages gender equality, health and wellbeing, education, employability, inclusion and peacebuilding.

A 2022 United Nations report states: “Sport can be catalytic when it is shaped to improve people’s opportunities, confidence, and sense of belonging in the short run, while laying the ground to change mindsets and build inclusive societies.

“Women’s and girls’ participation in sport, for example, can boost confidence and self-esteem while challenging gender stereotypes and influencing the behaviour of men and boys.”

The World Health Organisation estimates that regular physical activity can translate to a 30% reduction in obesity, depression, and other mental health conditions, helping to prevent up to five million deaths a year.

The benefits of investing in sport are manifold, according to Forbes.

They quote the CDC, which found that the benefits of physical activity include improved thinking or cognition for children ages 6–13 and reduced short-term feelings of anxiety for adults.

According to Deloitte: “Younger generations, in particular, are prioritising purpose and demanding brands reflect their values on key societal issues, such as DE&I.

“Sports organisations are embracing the challenge; driving inclusive participation and improving the DE&I (Diversity, Equity & Inclusion) of their workforces, while assuming a publicly purpose-driven role as catalysts of change.

“Organisations and sponsors that fail to meet expectations will lose the trust of fans, athletes, coaches and investors.”

The International Olympic Committee says: “Making sport relevant and recognised as a key contributor of the community makes it more attractive for new members and also for government, private sector and philanthropic funding.”

This white paper showcases some of the best sport for good initiatives undertaken around the world – from a variety of organisations offering opportunities to those whose lives are being transformed by their sport for good support.

Laureus Sport For Good

Project Outline

Through the use of sport, Laureus Sport for Good’s Global and National Foundations work to eradicate prejudice and violence against disadvantaged children and young people around the world.

Moving the Goalposts (MTG) is an award winning sport for development programme in Kilifi, Kwale, Mombasa and Tana River counties in coastal Kenya, which empower 9,000 girls and young women every year.

The programme aims at providing technology and entrepreneurial skills to young women in Africa to economically compete and bridge the gender gap in technology.

Case Study

Grace joined Moving the Goalposts, MTG, in 2009 when she was only seven years old. She admired how most of the MTG girls were playing football and the confidence they exhibited in school and in their daily lives.

Grace received her Kenya Certificate of Primary Education in 2014 and managed to score a total of 354 out of 500 marks. Based on this, she got an admission letter to join Secondary at one of the best performing national schools in the coastal region, Bahari Girls High school.

Unfortunately, she didn’t manage to take advantage of the offer due to lack of school fees and scholastic materials. Grace was forced to stay home for a whole year since the small amount of money that her father could get was used to cater for the family, including ten siblings, basic needs, which at this point also included her mother’s medical expenses.

Throughout her difficult educational journey, Grace never gave up on sports. It was the single constant in her life. She continued to take part in MTG activities where she gained numerous skills in different areas; She was trained as a youth peer provider, a young change maker and a football coach.

Grace got a CAF D coaching license, which also gave her a chance to become the assistant coach of the MTG’s elite football team; MTG United team.

“I want to encourage girls and young women to continue believing in themselves and makegood use of the opportunities that comes along,” Grace says. “I believe the opportunity to join the AkiraChix programme is just the beginning of an exciting and great journey in my career goal of becoming a female technology expert/professional. Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence and determination. It is possible! Tunaweza! We can!”

Grace’s experience is a powerful reminder that “sport can create hope where once there was only despair,” as Nelson Mandela phrased it at the inaugural Laureus World Sports Awards in 2000.

Grace’s mother later succumbed to cancer. Grace’s dream to continue with her education was almost shattered until MTG came through to her aid. After a year away from studies, MTG helped her access secondary education, which after four years led to an average of B+ in her KCSEs and an admission letter to study for a bachelor degree in computer science at Maseno University.

But again, her studies were interrupted. This time by the Covid-19 pandemic, which negatively affected her father’s income and her family. Again, Grace could not continue her studies. But she never stopped dreaming. She was determined to secure a chance to study IT and computer science. She did not give up in applying for scholarship opportunities. At the end of December2022, she successfully applied for the AkiraChix codeHive programme, which she then joined in the beginning of 2023.

Key Statistics

  • Supported 304 programmes across 42countries and territories with funding, training, and other technical assistance
  • Directly impacted more than 240,000children and young people
  • Over 85,000 from vulnerable and marginalised groups were directly impacted by programmes aiming to create more inclusive societies

The Football Association

Project Outline

Football should be unforgettable, but for thousands of fans with dementia, this isn’t the case.

The number of people living with dementia in the UK could fill Wembley Stadium 10 times over. The number whose lives are cruelly changed by the condition –carers, family, friends – is many millions higher.

Alzheimer’s Society has been The FA’s official charity partner since August 2021, working together to tackled the widespread stigma surrounding dementia by raising greater understanding among the football community and beyond.

The partnership has now raised over £675,000to fund lifechanging dementia support services and research, giving people living with dementia and their carers the knowledge they need to make informed choices, and emotional support to navigate their most challenging times.

England Women’s fixture against Australia at Brentford in April was the second dedicated charity international to raise funds and awareness for Alzheimer’s Society. Three Lionesses wore nameless shirts and were missing from the line-up sheet to convey that one in three people born in the UK today will develop dementia in their lifetime.

The partnership has also seen practical changes within football to change the game for thousands of fans. In June 2023, Alzheimer’s Society and The FA worked together to make Wembley the first national stadium to become more dementia inclusive, including improvements to the ticketing experience online and training for stadium staff, to ensure fans affected by dementia remain part of the game.

The FA has also backed Alzheimer’s Society’s Dementia Friendly Sports Clubs and Venues guide, which offers best practice for sports clubs, stadiums and venues of all sizes to help ensure all fans are supported and understood.

There have now been 41 county FAs that have trained as Alzheimer’s Society referral partners, meaning they are able to refer fans or players who come to them with concerns about dementia symptoms into Alzheimer’s Society’s Dementia Support Services, where they can access the help they need.

Now in its third season, the partnership is turning its focus towards the importance of diagnosis, to increase awareness around symptoms and fund research into earlier and more accurate diagnosis – changing the game on dementia.

Case Study

Tom Benoist’s grandparents both live with dementia. Before his grandad, John, started experiencing symptoms, Tom would go with him to the football almost every week. When John’s condition worsened, Tom became his grandad’s full-time carer during the pandemic, aged just 21.

“Grandad used to love football, and driving up the M6 with him on a weekend to watch Manchester United would be the highlight of my week. But when the dementia started creeping in, his experience at the stadium became very difficult – finding his way around, getting through turnstiles and getting support from staff became a struggle.

“It wasn’t long until we had to stop going altogether. Losing football was devastating for Grandad – I honestly think it was a catalyst for his deterioration, as it took away a fundamental part of his week. It’s so important for people to keep doing the things they love for as long as they can, which is why Alzheimer’s Society’s partnership with The FA is so important in making this possible for football fans.

“I’ve been lucky enough to have helped contribute directly to the partnership by sharing Grandad’s experience. In 2021, I was invited to take part in Alzheimer’s Society’s Sport United Against Dementia’s steering group, where I had the chance to meet some great people and give some thoughts and ideas I’d had for a long time. It was therapeutic to get these off my chest.

“As part of the partnership’s mission to make Wembley more dementia friendly, I pulled together a document outlining mine and Grandad’s own experience, including suggestions on how the Wembley website could be improved, with better accessibility, navigation and ticketing information. This has now been put into practice, which is great to see.

“Earlier this year I was invited to Wembley to take part in a staff training session, where I shared the challenges Grandad and I had personally faced on matchdays, as well as my perspective as a young former carer. It was an amazing opportunity to educate matchday staff and seeing their eyes open to the barriers fans living with dementia face within football. It was a great feeling of satisfaction and pride to think they were taking my words into consideration at the Carabao Cup final shortly after, and that some good was coming from Grandad’s experience.

“The FA can be such a force for good, with football being a trendsetter for other sports and the UK as a whole. Dementia can be a difficult topic to discuss, but the Alzheimer’s Society and FApartnership has made it impossible to ignore. I’m thrilled with what it’s achieved so far and can’t wait to see what else is to come.”

Adidas Breaking Barriers

Project Outline

adidas’ Breaking Barriers Project, launched in 2018, is a multi-year commitment to breaking down barriers for women and girls across Europe, with the goal of supporting them in reaching their full potential.

Working directly with nonprofit sports organisations, empowering local leaders and coaches, the project provides the sports industry with the necessary tools to lead change.

The project is dedicated to breaking down the systemic barriers that women face daily including cultural stigma, lack of access, representation, and self-confidence, which often leave them on the sidelines, on and off the field. The project currently works across Europe and is partnered with 15non-profit sports organisations to provide local mentors and leaders, also known as ‘Breaking Barriers Champions,’ alongside providing the sports industry with the necessary tools to lead with change.

Recently, the adidas Breaking Barriers project published a report exploring the importance of gender-informed coaching.

This was conducted through:

  • Interviewing 13 experts
  • Hosting 19 focus groups
  • Surveying 5,000+ girls, boys and non-binary youth

Based on the in-depth insights gathered from the studies, the research highlight the three key root causes of coaching as a barrier, alongside the key ways both organizations and coaches can help to create change.

Case Study

Jea is a professional Korfball player, volunteer coach at La Rotllana and Breaking Barriers champion. Born in the Dominica Republic, Jea now lives in Spain, in the city of Badalona.

As a player and a coach, Jea is committed to breaking barriers by building relationships.

“I’m fighting for us to be heard. I fell in love with sport because my family included me in it. I saw my sister and cousins playing sport and that helped for me to love it. I was essentially born into sports.

“From my life in the Dominican Republic, the biggest challenge was transportation because I had to practice various sports. At times I had to hitchhike, but I have no regrets because it helped me arrive at the place I am now.

“My relationship with the girls is very important, both as a player and a coach. I think if we don’t look out for each other, nobody will do it for us.

“I think my example can be used to them, since I come from a country where there are even more barriers. I want to be a multiplier, bringing all those lessons to help those girls to break barriers as I did. Because when I did it, I was improvising, but now I can guide them and help make their journey easier.

“I am breaking barriers for myself, for my family, for girls and boys, and for my community.”

Key Statistics

  • 5 years: Breaking Barriers is a multi-year commitment to championing women and girls in sport
  • 15 non-profits: The project works with 15non-profits to make an impact on the ground
  • 100 champions: Training 100 role models to be leaders in gender equity in their own communities
  • 50k women & girls: Aim to break barriers for over 50,000 girls so they can realise their full potential

To download the rest of Calacus PR’s white paper click here. Calacus provides support to a wide range of organisations using sport for good around the world. To find out more, please contact Calacus  here.