Mo Salah changing social and political attitudes: Some Liverpool Voices

By Salma Abdalla and Grant Jarvie

Introduction
Few Muslims in British public life and British sporting life have been as open about their Muslim identity. This short evidenced research blog presents a series of voices around a set of themes, primarily Liverpool voices. They are a reflection on the impact of one footballer credited with changing social attitudes to perceptions about Islam in Britain since arriving at Liverpool Football Club in 2017. They resulted from a six-month period of fieldwork during 2017-18.

Athletes as social and political game changers
Mo Salah is part of a significant history of talented sports people who have used the highly visible public platform provided by sport to shed light on a number of social and political causes. A number of athletes have fought and aligned themselves to different social and political causes.

Ten Key Facts:
• Born in Nagrig, in the Gharbia district of Egypt (10% of people live in poverty).
• Salah’s football journey has included El Mokawloon Basle, Chelsea, Fiorentina and Roma.
• 2017 joins Liverpool Football Club for £36.9 million.
• In October 2017, Salah scored the penalty that sent Egypt to their first World Cup finals in 28 years.
• Stanford Study reports a reduction in hate crime in Liverpool, dropping by 18.8%. since Salah the club.
• Scored the opening goal in the Champions League Final
• The Salah effect linked to changing attitudes towards Muslims on Merseyside.
• Has supported struggles for women in Egypt stating that We need to change the way we treat women in our culture”.
• 2019 Times 100 list of influential people.
• Salah has maintained a close relationship with his family, neighbours and friends in Nagrig. He nurtures this relationship by supporting various development projects in village, ranging from youth centres to schools and hospitals.

Effect on Muslims as a source of pride and belonging:
“I think he has made the Muslim community in Liverpool and across the globe very proud. He has been a torchbearer of our faith in difficult times. He has broken many different barriers related to Islamophobia” (Male Muslim Liverpool Fan 1).

“My obsession or pride towards him isn’t because he is Mo Salah, my pride is because he is a Muslim doing amazing in the game and I love the fact that the second he does something wrong white people will jump to protect him” (Male Muslim Liverpool Fan 2).

“I am not a football fan but now Salah makes us talk about football. We feel proud and we show our support for him (Non-Football Muslim 1).

“Salah is showing that there’s avenue within sport and that you can do that as a Muslim and as an Arab, which is changing perceptions of local communities (Female Muslim football Fan 1).

Changing perceptions:
“He has changed the many different negative perceptions that people hold about the Muslim community and Muslim players (Male Muslim Liverpool Fan 1).

“I don’t know if he has made convers to Islam but he has opened people up to thinking about Islam in a different way…” (Non-Football Muslim 2).

“I think Salah challenges perceptions of what a Muslim is in Britain at this point in time” (Female Football Fan 2).

Wide acceptance and personality:
“Perhaps it comes down to success and I think regardless of a player’s background, religion, ethnicity, if you’re bringing your club success then fans are going to get behind you… (Female Football Fan 2).

“They footballers make millions and while Salah never speaks about it – he wants to do charity, he wants to do things for the community and he acts as a normal human being – he can make an impact because he is all about family, love of community and people in Liverpool relate to him” (Male Football Fan 4).

“He is experienced at being a Muslim or Islamic …. People are aware of the way it is talked about but he manages to do it in a way that is completely non-threatening” (Male Football Fan 5)

Celebrating faith:
“He is unapologetically Muslim, the beard, the prostration, the hand in the air and his name is Mohammed.. it is all of these things and on top of that he is a brilliant footballer” (Male Football Fan 2).

Context:
Most respondents agreed that the context, the place and the rise of Salah in Liverpool cannot be ignored.

“Liverpool is quite inclusive in that aspect and they seem to tie together as a family because of historical things that they kind of experienced together , their anthem you’ll never walk alone has a kind of encompassing feeling” (Female Football Fan 2).

Jurgen Klopp:
“It’s fantastic it is exactly what we need in these times .. To see this wonderful young man, full of joy, full of love, full of friendship, full of everything in a world where we struggle to understand all the things happening on the planet”

“Mo is a very smart person and his role is very influential. In the world at the moment, it is very important that you have people like Mo”

Conclusion.
The qualitative voices presented here add to some of the quantitative empirical work around what many are calling the off-field Salah effect. The voices talk to the impact of the player in Liverpool but equally a number of commentators have also reflected upon the impact of the footballer upon an Egyptian youth looking for role models.

Fresh winds for equity in the beautiful game but challenges remain

By Grant Jarvie – University of Edinburgh 

Almost four years ago the Academy of Sport was invited to contribute to the then calls for reform in world soccer and support for women’s soccer. A summary of the contribution can be found here. The case for support focused upon two key themes. Firstly, that women were under-represented in decision making in world soccer and secondly that women’s football was under-resourced.

At the start of the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup held France a panel of experts on the women’s game both domestically and internationally gathered at the University of Edinburgh’s Academy of Sport to both celebrate women’s soccer and reflect upon lessons and observations on the beautiful game.

Ebru Koksal one of only two women to have been the CEO of a Champions League Football Club and current chair of women in football championed the case for being bold for change.

2019 World Cup finance and equal pay
The 2019 World Cup is the first where the clubs will be compensated for releasing their players. Another gap closed in principle. The total FIFA input of £39 million is more than three times the amount made available for Canada in 2015. The total prize fund at the 2018 World Cup in Russia was more than £300 million. Lessons need to be learned in relation to how the Women’s World Cup rights are commercialised.

England’s Toni Duggan believes that the players should be paid more but not the same as men. Most of the professional women players with the big clubs in England will be on six-figure salaries. This is more than many SPFL men players and yet equality for Duggan is as much about pitches, facilities and parity of esteem. In Europe fans are much more open to supporting the club rather than the fact that it is the men or women’s team playing. In 2019 Duggan finished her second season with Barcelona and played in front of the then league record crowd of 60,739.

The five majors
The CIES 2019 demographic analysis of five major women’s football leagues (England, Germany, Sweden, France and the USA all of whom reached the quarter finals in France) can be found here. It concluded that the economic development occurring at the top of the pyramid of women’s professional football indicates that the age of players tends to increase as international mobility grows and that the concentration of the best footballers within a limited number of clubs in the best leagues remains concentrated in these five countries.

From the players playing in France 2019 Canada is the country with the biggest contingent of expatriate players in the championship with a total of 28. Canadians are particularly numerous in the United States with the National Women’s Soccer League, the majority of Scottish women head for England while half of the expatriate American’s play in Sweden.

Challenges and opportunities
Whether it be the domestic of international front fresh winds for more equity in the beautiful game are being called for. Along with challenges come opportunities argued Ebru Koksal. The UEFA women’s football strategy talks of : Doubling the number of women and girls playing football in UEFA’s member associations to 2.5 million; Changing the perceptions of women’s football across Europe; Doubling the reach and value of the UEFA Women’s EURO and the UEFA Women’s Champions League; Improving player standards by reaching standard agreements for national team players and putting safeguarding policies in place in all 55 member associations and doubling female representation on all UEFA bodies.

Progress but challenges remain.
At the first World Cup in 1991 the gender split of the coaches was 11 (men) and 1 (woman) while in France men continued to dominate 16 to 8.

The USA ranked number one in the world going into the tournament sees US soccer involved in a lawsuit accused of gender discrimination. 28 members of the USA World Cup Soccer squad filed the lawsuit on 8 March 2019 alleging institutionalised gender discrimination that included inequitable compensation when compared to their male counterparts in the USA.

Norway entered the tournament without Ada Hegerberg , the first female Ballon d’Or winner, who stepped away from the National team in 2017 because of the perceived or otherwise lack of disregard for women’s football in Norway.

Domestic insights
Domestically it was the first World Cup that Scotland had qualified for since 1998. The country has arguably witnessed a culture shift with taxi drivers talking excitedly about the game in a country that has no full-time professional league that women can play in.

Between 2015 and 2019 the number of registered female players in Scotland has risen to about 14,000. 6.1 million viewers watched Scotland v England. 18,555 attended the Scotland v Jamaica build up game at Hampden Park just prior to the World Cup – a record crowd for a women’s game at Hampden. The average attendance at women’s football matches in Scotland is about 1500.

Commentators on the women’s game regularly point to the fact that it is a cleaner and easier product to sell – no gambling, no alcohol sponsorship and not troubled by sectarianism.

Laura Montgomery, co-founder of Glasgow City, the most successful women’s team to date in Scotland and who according to Rachel Corsie – Scotland’s Captain has done more than anyone to advance the game for women and girls in Scotland also joined the University of Edinburgh discussion and provided a real insight into the challenge to grow and sustain the women’s game in Scotland while not compromising on the quality of input.

Significantly she asked where would the women’s game in Scotland be now if it had not been banned?

Leeann Dempster CEO of Hibernian Football Club talking about the state of the women’s game in Scotland sees it as getting stronger but that does not mean that it is strong as it should be. For the CEO key questions remain:

• How do we fund the growth of the women’s game in Scotland?
• How do we bring in the commercial rewards it deserves?
• Who takes responsibility for the women’s game in Scotland? Where does it sit? Who takes the lead?

Concluding comment
Football, soccer remains one of the most visible areas of public life in many countries. The 50 page review of women’s football published just prior to the 2019 World Cup suggested that fresh winds of equity were blowing but that significant challenges remain- see here. Such a visible are of public life brings with it responsibilities for forging and enjoying the benefits that gender equality and diversity brings with and through soccer.

Sporting Biographies of Scottish Women

By Grant Jarvie 

Celebrating Scottish Sporting Women on St Andrew’s Day 

Between 2006 and 2018 we have carefully researched, edited and helped to produce a number of entries within the 1st and 2nd editions of The Biographical Dictionary of Scottish Women. Here we celebrate the contribution of Scottish Sporting Women by releasing just some of the entries that our researchers have worked on (in alphabetical order) 

Arran, countess of n Fiona Bryde Colquhoun born Luss, 20 July 1918, died Castle Hill Devon 16 May, 2013. Daughter of Sir Ian Colquhoun of Luss (1887-1948) and Geraldine Bryde (1889-1974). Became Countess of Arran upon marriage on 11 June 1937 to Arthur Strange Gore the 8th Earl of Arran (1910-1983) with who she had 2 sons.

She was introduced to powerboat speed in 1932, aged 13. Her career spanned 15 years (1965-1980). Her first race being at Iver (1965). As the sole woman competitor in the 1966 Paris 6 hours circuit marathon on the Seine, she finished 14th out of 90. In: 1969 she set a record of 55mph in the Cornish 100; 1972 the Class 1 speed record of 55mph at Lake Windermere; 1979 the Class 2 World Record of 93mph and a world record of 102 mph in 1980 at the age of 62. She retired in 1981 the same year she became the first women to be awarded the Segrave Trophy.

She made a brief comeback in 1989 and helped to produce and pilot an electronically propelled hydroplane achieving a silent and environmentally friendly record of 50.825mph at the age of 71.

Buried at Luss, she regularly wore some item of Colquhoun tartan and remained a staunch supporter of Loch Lomond and the surrounding area.

Fuchs, Eileen Margaret Knowles born Ashford, Middlesex 30 May 1920, died Grantown on Spey 11 January 2013 and Jamieson Hilda born Dundee 12 August 1913, died 12 May 2016.

Both women contributed greatly to Scottish Skiing.

Eileen was educated at Croydon High School for Girls and Newnham College, Cambridge where she studied history from 1938-1942.

She travelled to Vienna (1953) to study the violin and met and married Karl Fuchs, an Austrian Olympic Skier.

In 1954 they purchased Struan House Hotel in Carrbridge and founded the Austrian Ski School. For 30 years they helped to pioneer skiing in the Cairngorms. She and her husband were referred to as the mother and father of Scottish skiing.

Her son Peter competed for Great Britain in the Winter Olympic Games (1976).

They sold Struan House in 1984 and after Karl’s death in 1980 Eileen moved to Grantown-on-Spey. She inaugurated the Karl and Peter Fuchs Memorial Fund for the benefit of young Speyside skiers.

Hilda Jamieson along with her husband developed the Glenshee Ski Centre.

Fondly referred as Britain’s oldest skier she was Dundee ladies champion, the Scottish ladies champion and a stalwart member of the Dundee Tennant Trophy Team.

Many of her children and grand-children became Scottish Champion skiers with one of her daughters competing at the 1968 Winter Olympic Games.

Skilled at other sports notably tennis, golf and swimming Hilda exercised throughout her life, taking her last swim aged of 102.

And yet it was Skiing in which she excelled with one obituary describing her as quite possibly’ Scotland’s, the UK’s and possibly the world’s oldest active skier’.

Hamilton, Helen n Elliot, born Edinburgh 20 January 1927, died Perth 12 January 2013.She was 16 years old when she first played table tennis but became the first Scot to win a major World Table Tennis title and as of 2016 remains the only Table Tennis inductee into the Scottish Sports Hall of Fame

Her career started at Dalry First Aid Post, moved on to Murrayfield and she then established a long association with the Gambit Club.

Helen Elliott won: 2 World titles; World Championship medals in three consecutive years (1952-1955); singles championship titles in Ireland Wales, England, Belgium, Germany and Scotland; the English Open title in 1949, 1950 and 1958 and the Scottish Open, first in 1946 then for a further 13 consecutive years.

She spent many years developing the game in Scotland, and served many national and international Table Tennis organisations. She, coached at Summer Table Tennis Camps throughout the UK, served as Honorary President of Scottish Table Tennis Association and was nominated President of the Commonwealth Table Tennis Federation in 1997 and 2005.

Newstead, Isabel n Barr born Glasgow 3 May, 1955, died Harlow 18 January 2007.A Paralympian who won 14 medals across three sports during a 24-year Olympic career (1980-2004).

Newstead grew up in Renfrewshire and enjoyed success as a county swimmer. A flu virus caused an injury to her spinal cord and lead to tetraplegia – partial or complete paralysis of all four limbs. Her rehabilitation programme included swimming and in 1975 she enrolled at Port Glasgow Otters. Her determination to cope with her disability was noted by Britain’s paraplegic team members and that connection propelled her on the road to 25 years of international endeavour.

By: 1984 Newstead had won nine Olympic medals; 1988 she had been selected for the Paralympic Games in Seoul where she won four medals; 2000 a new world-record score had been set in Sydney and in The Paralympic Games in Athens in 2004 she won a gold medal in the women’s air pistol.

Awarded an MBE in the 2000 New Year Honour’s list, Isabel was the first high performance disabled athlete to be inducted into the Scottish Sports Hall of Fame.

Jarvie Margaret n Bolton born 20 January 1928 Motherwell, died 15 April 2004 Edinburgh.

One of only 2 women to win all Scottish swimming championship titles from 50 -1000 yds. She was part of Motherwell Ladies Relay Team described by the press (1942) ‘as the finest team of speedsters in Scottish swimming history’.

From 1944-48 she held Scottish senior titles breaking the Scottish breast stroke record in 1945. The Lanarkshire Olympians featured her and David Jarvie (husband) as part of an aquatic team that amassed 4 world, 47 British and 172 Scottish records (1936-1960).

She recalled being lodged with a wealthy family for a gala thinking “Why can my parents not live like this?” Her sense of political awareness developed and continued into encouraging disadvantaged people into higher education, providing free counselling to prostitutes, being invited to work with radical groups at Ruskin College and adopting Colin, one of the earliest non-white adoptions into an all white family in 1960’s Scotland. She lived The Swimming Club philosophy that everyone was equal

An obituary attributed ‘among the mothers of counselling in Scotland pride of place to Margaret Jarvie’ and described her as ‘one of the agents of the transition over fifty years of women’s position’.

United States Sport Diplomacy under 3 Presidents

By Joe Marro

For decades, the U.S. has aimed to use sport as an effective aspect of diplomacy and cultural relations efforts with a view to establishing deep, meaningful relationships with local stakeholders.

America’s use of sports diplomacy involves the work of influential athletes, local programmes and partnerships around the globe.

Sport has played an important role in developing America’s international image. This was evident in the American boycotts of some Cold War era Olympic Games, the work of Muhammad Ali, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Billy Jean King, Arthur Ashe and NBA stars like Kobe Bryant and LeBron James in China.

The Sports Diplomacy Division

Shortly after the 9/11 attacks, President George W. Bush’s Administration created Sports United, now the Sports Diplomacy Division (SDD), to use sport as a way to conduct diplomatic outreach between the U.S. and countries in the Middle East.

These efforts included sending U.S. athletes and coaches overseas as well as the Sports Visitor Program, which brings non-elite athletes and coaches to the U.S. for a training and development programme.

SDD made significant strides during the Obama Administration, including the creation of two new programmes aimed at increasing access to sport participation for women and girls and developing female emerging leaders in sport.

In a 2013  study  conducted by Management Systems International and the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs Office of Policy and Evaluation, 92% of respondents said that their views of the American people had improved after participating in SDD programming.

The Sports Diplomacy Division consists of several programmes which aim to use sports as a platform for addressing foreign policy priorities across the globe.

SDD programmes have been growing and enhancing their impact. In the period from 2010 through 2013, the Sports Visitor, Sports Grants, and Sports Envoy programs all experienced significant growth.

  •  The Sports Visitor Program increased their impacted countries by 229% and experienced a 142% increase in the number of Sports Visitor participants.
  •  The Sports Grants program’s number of participants from 2010-2013 was 85% of their total participants in the eight years prior.
  •  The Sports Envoy Program had 179% more coaches and players in this four-year range than the previous eight years and reached 59% more countries than reached from 2005 to 2009.

Using sport to tackle global issues

Sports and Gender Equality

The work of the SDD is critical in improving opportunities for girls and women to participate in sport around the world.

In 2012, the State Department partnered with espnW to establish the Global Sports Mentoring Programme, which pairs emerging international women leaders with leading American female sports executives.

SDD’s Women and Girls Through Sports Initiative works to engage with underserved youth, particularly girls, in order to increase sport participation levels, raise levels of self-esteem, and increase focus on access to quality education.

This presents an opportunity for female leaders to participate in a five-week mentorship in the U.S. and allows them to bring lessons back into their communities with a view to promoting and fostering the growth of more female sport leaders.

Sport and Global Health

Physical activity has been shown to be an important part of preventative strategies to address global health. SDD works to increase physical activity through programmes like the International Sports Programming Initiative (ISPI), which awards grants to U.S. non-profits working in 10 countries. This programme benefits both its international participants and U.S. non-profits, with 57 grants implemented through 38 different NGOs in the period from 2002-2009.

Since the programme’s introduction in 2002, there have been 862 Americans engaged in sport for development programmes overseas, and 1,462 foreign participants who have travelled to the U.S. to gain knowledge of the sport for change infrastructure.

Sport for Community

Since 2012, alumni from SDD’s “Sport for Community” programme  have mobilised close to 5,000 volunteers and impacted nearly 100,000 people through sports workshops, clinics, and conferences at the local level.

The Sport for Community programme partners with the Center for Sport, Peace, and Society at the University of Tennessee (UTK) to deliver these services across the country.

These partnerships with Universities like UTK, as well as the University of Kentucky’s  Global Centre for Sport Diplomacy are a sound method for delivering critical sport for development and social change programmes around the country.

These partnerships work to address pressing challenges both within the U.S. and abroad, in addition to serving a crucial role in helping to develop future leaders in the field.

American Professional Sports and Diplomacy

The United States Sports Diplomacy and cultural relations efforts also include harnessing the worldwide popularity of American sports leagues and athletes. In the past, athletes have visited countries where engagement with populations through traditional methods of outreach has proved challenging.

In early 2016, the SDD brought stars like NBA Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal to Cuba to engage directly with Cuban youth and build upon the work of people-to-people exchanges. Sport is seen as a natural avenue for engaging Cuban youth and encouraging a closer relationship between the two nations in the decades to come.

These efforts can be replicated in countries where direct public engagement is needed to foster relationships.

Along these lines, the National Basketball Association has made significant progress in growing the game of basketball and the American basketball product globally, especially in Europe and Asia. In China, the NBA has worked with the Chinese Ministry of Education to administer a programme focused on basketball and physical fitness that it is anticipated to be taken up by some 2,000 schools across China.

The U.S. government has a unique opportunity to partner with U.S. based professional sport leagues like the NBA who have already made significant strides in growing their international influence. These types of partnerships help to advance U.S. cultural relations efforts abroad, deliver key services to countries in need, and, where appropriate, help in growing meaningful relationships with governments.

Where are we now?

Despite the many successes of the SDD and the proven track record of sport for development around the world, the current Administration has proposed wide-scale cuts to the State Department’s appropriations, the federal funding source for the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, of which SDD is a part.

Given the scope and impact of its programmes, the Sport Diplomacy Division boasts a significant return on investment, spending just .0001% of the State Department’s budget.

This month’s shakeup at the State Department, resulting in the ouster of Secretary Rex Tillerson and President Trump’s appointment of CIA Director Mike Pompeo as his replacement, raises several questions for America’s diplomatic strategy going forward.

Mr. Tillerson presided over and supported proposed deep cuts to the Department’s budget and diplomatic corps. The first fourteen months of the Trump Administration have demonstrated an expected move away from soft power, creating a cloud of doubt around the role of diplomacy, including sport diplomacy and it’s place in America’s foreign policy over the next three years.

Sport for Change : Some Women’s Voices from the Street

By Grant Jarvie and Alex Richmond 

Sport for change is sometimes taken to mean sporting activities that are intentionally used to deliver social impact for individuals and communities beyond increasing participation or performance. The logic of Sport for Change needs a clear set of outcomes stating the intentional wider social impacts that intervention a, b or c aims to achieve. The ground is then cleared for initiatives that are focused upon producing change in areas such as health, education, community empowerment, justice, safety, enterprise, employability and much more.

Accessing programmes for change through sport is complex and requires an understanding of groups, contexts and individual fears and barriers to participation.

For example, Sport in Focus 1:1 provides an insight into some of the barriers facing some women from disadvantaged backgrounds aiming to access street soccer in one country.

SPORT IN FOCUS 1:1 Women’s Voices from the Street 

Self-Selection

Quite often a lack of confidence can be a barrier to involvement in street soccer

■    I challenged myself by One- getting on the bus to come here to the other side of town and two – to discipline myself to come every week because it is only 6-weeks but that is a goal in itself”

■    “It’s about balancing the stuff going on in your head and with some of the exercises deal with coordination- you can’t have that little voice in your head telling you you’re no good at it”

Fear of the unknown

Quite often fear of the unknown can be a barrier to involvement.

■    She used to do sport activities on a regular basis and she liked the community around them. So there is something to hold on to but it takes people some time to do it and believe they can do it

■    “…and going of my own experience- you’re like that sounds cool and I want to do it. But I don’t know what to expect. I don’t know what I am going into. Too many fears. Too many barriers holding me back….”

Football

Quiet often football is a barrier

■    “I think that’s a difficult thing as I come from a generation where football just was not…”

■    “…. that like me when I was a kid… I was the only one that played football… the rest of my friends didn’t play…”

■    “That’s usually the first thing some say. If I speak to people, with girls about Street Soccer, they’ll say I can’t play football… I don’t know how to play football…”

Structural barriers

Quiet often the type of activity and the location of the activity can be a barrier

■    …with temporary accommodation, it is usually around the city centre so it’s not an issue to get to places. But very often when people get Council housing they are outside, so coming into the city centre without having a bus pass or being on very limited benefits, that’s a barrier itself

The practical lessons learned from change interventions are varied and context specific.   Sport in Focus 1:2 provides an insight into some of these responses around three areas: Sport for Health; Sport for Social Inclusion and Sport for Conflict Resolution and Peace.

SPORT IN FOCUS 1:2 SPORT AND SOCIAL INTERVENTION

 – Lessons to be passed on

Health

■    “Our intervention taught us to always look beyond the obvious, that we set our goals from day one with community members and that we use our child protection policy and measurable activities to ensure that we are making positive differences in children’s lives.”

■    “The power of parents, parents and dedicated community members are integral to creating community ownership of a health problem that has dramatic impact on their children’s wellbeing.”

■    “The biggest practical lesson we have learned and already shared is the use of local talent who are hungry for opportunities to learn and succeed. As Rwanda is experiencing high levels of youth unemployment participants graduating from our programmes are in desperate need to support themselves and their families, retaining them within our programme has enabled us evolve, increasing the number and quality of services while at the same time supporting local communities and national goals for youth engagement”.

Social Inclusion

■    “The single biggest learning is that the significant challenges faced by a programme and or organisation will have solutions, but you need to engage members and those involved to find solutions from within rather than look to external agencies for support. Believing in each other and providing the resources and tools primarily from within provides the platform from which sustainability is created”.

■    “Our biggest single insight is local ownership of the programme which for us involves a blend of sport development and sport for development”.

■    “We learned that volunteer coaches need more than just initial training but ongoing support to foster their development, confidence and effectiveness”

Conflict Resolution and Peace

■ “A wide network, a willingness to be transparent and strong partnerships are vital” The ethos of sharing and partnership increases our ability to help refugee”

■ “Young leaders who are free of the baggage that so many of this and the past generations carry with them are ideally placed to actively contribute to creating a more stable and peaceful society – in our context they are the fourth vital pillar of community relations”

■    “Start small- because we started small and listened to the community we could identify strengths to build on like recognizing that many people believed in themselves”

■    “While conflict resolution content is crucial high calibre competition is no less important- it helped us engage participants on a long-term basis – an essential factor in effecting meaningful positive change”

■ “We have learned that success of our intervention in a conflict environment is dependent on long term activities that adapt to change on the ground. Long term programming is essential in order to support and gauge the gradual process of perception change among people and communities”

Sport for Change

While Sport for Change can be a resource of hope for many individuals, communities and groups, it should not be at the expense of recognizing the capabilities that are demonstrably delivered through sports participation or performance, nor should it be at the expense of the role of sport in voicing social alternatives, or being a critique of the triumph of capitalism.

The humanitarian aspect of the Olympic movement should perhaps come more to the fore ahead of medals or hosting major sporting events that many cities and countries cannot afford.

There is a substantial body of work that shows sporting mega events as adversarial sites and draws these into the politics of place and time. There needs to be at least a common narrative throughout these events if they are going to live up to the promise of the term social movement or a humanitarian resource of hope.

They certainly need an alternative to the neo-liberal narrative. Forms of activism around major sporting events invariably fall into categories such as spontaneous uprisings, grass-roots mobilisation and protest and special interest groups. Such events can act as soft power through arguing for transparency, accountability, local involvement and increased capability in community outreach with measured intentional social impacts.

Their needs to be more agreed common ground about sport for change and the language of sport for change where it is agreed that sporting initiatives unwittingly or otherwise should not produce harm while any divisions within sport about the language of sport needs to be inclusive and recognise that sporting factions are stronger together than apart. We should not underestimate the capacity of sport to collapse social barriers, nor should we ignore the lack of access to sport for youth living in poverty in many parts of the world. It is crucial to acknowledge the capacity of sport to facilitate social change.

The strength of sport’s capacity to produce change lies in its popularity in different parts of the world, its capacity to symbolise graphically but more poignantly work for social and political change, acknowledge success and learn the lessons from political failures through sport. Such alternatives both influence and are influenced by different visions of a world that continues to struggle with inequality, turmoil and lack of clarity about the nature of both capitalism and democracy. Contemporary researchers, teachers and thinkers about sport in the world today, and those working with sport are having an impact but more needs to be done.

Endnote

If those supporting sport for change move Beyond Sport as it is currently operating, invoke the idea of intentionality, maximise the social tool box that is sport then it might just be that an aspirational politics of the possible might be grasped if not realised.

 

Sport, poverty and women: Some African-American basketball voices

By Sheila Dixon and Grant Jarvie

“The program is a family and they work together to give girls ‘TWO’ The Way Out using basketball”.

“Where I come from it is really rough ……, it’s hard not to get involved in the streets. If it were not for basketball – I would not be here”.

Local and Global Poverty

As a local and global phenomenon, poverty, together with its eradication, remains a challenge of enormous proportions, despite levels of extreme wealth in parts of the world. The answer on how to eradicate poverty remains illusive. Attempts to redistribute wealth, develop capabilities, improve life- chances and narrow the inequality gap, all involve a raft of measures and the struggle to find out what works where and when and under what circumstances.

Typically, poverty is understood to be a lack of resources, but it can also mean inadequate outcomes or lack of opportunities (Mckendrick, 2016). It is not the same as income inequality or multiple deprivation, but it is closely related to both issues. Renewed attempts to think of poverty have been forthcoming (Banerjee and Duflo, 2011). The UN offers a Multidimensional Poverty Index while local contexts, such as Scotland, use measures such as the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation.

The relationship between sport and poverty has been historically linked and yet contemporary social activists, policy formulators and parliamentarians often remain detached and aloof about the opportunities facilitated through sport.

Sport and Poverty
The relationship between sport and poverty is complex:
• Sport can be an escape from poverty;
• Sport assists with social mobility:
• The ghetto thesis suggests that poor living conditions foster tough sportspeople who can succeed and escape;
• Sport helps with educational achievement;
• Sport can carry social messages to raise awareness;
• Barriers to sports participation exist for those experiencing poverty;
• Sport builds capabilities, including confidence, self-esteem and self-efficacy:
• Sport helps to provide a degree of normality when all around seems not to be normal;
• Children living in the poorest households in some countries may never experience sport;
• Sport contributes to the poverty of opportunity; and
• Poverty exists, not just in areas of multiple deprivation, but also in affluent areas, but the experience of sport in these two contexts might be different.

Some Basketball Voices

The study drawn upon in this blog gives voice to one inner city programme aimed at providing African-American girls and women alternative choices through basketball.

To some extent this research compliments similar studies and the disparities of gender, race and class that have influenced opportunities available to African- American girls and the long term benefits of participating in positive sport programmes like basketball.

The research supports the ideal youth development-specific sport programmes can provide young black girls with an outlet for physical activity but also provide them an avenue to challenge the norms and stigmas often placed on them while providing them opportunities to learn, grow and expand their social capital.

The work of Olushola et al (2013) identified four key components in developing a successful a youth programme that aimed to cater for black girls: (1) family; (2) education; (3) discipline; and (4) civic engagement (Olushola, et al., 2013).

Furthermore, the study concluded that sport must exist beyond the context of physical activity to combat the challenges that young minority girls face. Sport is flexible and can be incorporated as a tool to achieve the goals of youth development programmes (Olushola, et al., 2013).Yet as a social tool box the complexity of the sports offer requires a knowledge of what works, where and when and under what circumstances. In an of itself it is not a solution but it does offer the opportunity to develop capabilities in Sen’s sense of the term.

This girl’s youth basketball programme was established in 2004 in upstate New York. It is one of many basketball programmes – Peace Players International, Gainline Africa Basketball – that aim to further enable girls and women on the margins.

Listen to these basketball voices as some of the testimonies supporting this one New York local based programme for girls.

On Family

The philosophy was simple; the programme would be looked at as a “family”. Those individuals who were associated with the programme were a part of the family and that family extends to any and all people who had come through the programme (e.g. players, coaches, parents, sponsors, supporters, …

During observations, team huddles would finish with a “shout” on a 3-count in which all members of the huddle would shout “Family”. Huddles could happen as many as four times in a practice session and as much as ten times during a game

“The programme is a family and they work together to give girls ‘TWO’ (the way out) using basketball”

On Money

According to the director, they and others in the “family are able to make it work” meaning the programme and the demands of the programme, because they have built relationships in the community that affords them the chance to work with the area’s basketball trainers and use certain facilities at their disposal. One participant said:

“being able to train in different facilities helped us to get used to playing in different environments and allowed us access to equipment such as shooting guns that you only see in college practices which we would not have access to and are way too expensive to purchase personally”

The programme went beyond being just a basketball programme, one said:

“The programme made us better people and young ladies. It helped us get free money too, and by free money I mean scholarships. But, we had expectations to meet. There was a certain decorum we had to have as athletes of this programme… respect for ourselves and others. And learning that would be able to take us further than what basketball could ever do.”

On Staying Out of Trouble

Alumni participants who had come from particular backgrounds such as living in low income, single family neighbourhoods where crime and deviance was heightened believed that the programme and the sport kept them out of trouble.

“I believe, if I did not play in the programme, I would not have seen different than what I was surrounded by in my neighbourhood and most likely would have fallen into those same surroundings and not attended college”

On Social Capital

The primary social capital element that the programme focuses on is advancing educational attainment which is the greatest challenge that many individuals face. However, in order to optimize individual development capabilities, the programme must address the concerns of its players being females in sport.

The education attainment objectives in the programme are put forth through basketball yet the programme does not have the ability in and of itself to address all the potential scholastic challenges that individuals currently deal with.

The potential benefits of finding what works best and under what circumstances through, in this case basketball are not to be ignored-

Life, learning and work

¬ Improved confidence and self-esteem

¬ People are better equipped to make positive
choices in their lives

¬ Young people’s learning experiences and
attainment improves

¬ People develop their skills for life, learning and work

¬ People progress into learning, training, volunteering
or employment

Communities

¬ Increased connections and cohesion within communities

¬ Families have positive relationships

¬ Communities experience reduced anti-social behaviour and offending

Deficit models of culture, blaming the poor for their poverty, ignoring structural reasons for poverty and not acknowledging specific contexts are not options. Nor is the observation that while governments change and policies change more often that not the levels of need in many neighbourhood communities remain the same.

There is sufficient, consistent evidence to support the need to look at both an area approach to social interventions involving neighbourhood sports programmes, along with the call for more flexible, free, adaptable, informal, safe and interactive neighbourhood sports provision, if the thresholds on sports participation are to be lowered and the barrier of poverty is to be removed to allow increased access to sport for young people, the marginalised and the excluded.

Childcare, pre-school and extended school provision and serious investment in early intervention are some of the interventions that have been aimed at making a lasting difference. One of the most valuable lessons to be learned is that understanding the context is key to determining which tools in the social toolbox of sport can help and support the local context. It is not a one-size-fits-all solution.

Basketball More than a Game

Basketball is not a solution but it provides resources for some individuals and communities. Classic studies of mid-night basketball leagues in Chicago and other cities have been careful to qualify grand claims and yet education through basketball studies have suggested change is possible on a number of fronts where basketball is a means to an end.

The basketball voices from this one New York based Basketball based programme testify in part to the potential of sport for change being be a part of communities that can create positive learning environments for individuals who face challenges based upon complex interactions, in this case of of class, gender and race.

Small steps can make a big difference

By

Pete Allison

Penn State University and the University of Edinburgh

European press coverage of the Middle East often portrays images of a war stricken region where women are oppressed and religious values contribute to intolerance. If dominant press narratives of the ‘middle east are not challenged the chance to provide alternative visions of this part of the world is problematic.

Sport has long since been used as tool for personal and social development (PSD)- something that this author strongly supports. I am interested in the contributions that sport can make to society and have spent much of my life leading and researching interventions that invoke the power of outdoor sports, expeditions and education.

Connecting cultures

In 2005 Mark Evans MBE was working as a Geography teacher in Saudi Arabia. Becoming disillusioned with UK media coverage of the Middle East and its incongruence with his own experience of living there he decided to advocate change.

A year later, several meetings with Kofi Annan (then secretary to United Nations) and the Sultan of Oman saw the start of Connecting Cultures (CC). A proactive approach to bring together young people from different countries across Europe and the Middle East to learn about each other’s cultures and carry that learning back to their communities and forward in their lives.

National UN offices identify future leaders through their in country networks and encourage them to apply to join a CC programme.

The hearth councils
The idea draws on TE Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia) who explains in The Seven Pillars of Wisdom. 

“For the ordinary Arab, the hearth was a university, around which their world passed and where they heard the best talk, the news of their tribes, its poems, history, love tales, lawsuits and bargainings. By such constant sharing in the hearth councils, they grew up masters of expression, dialecticians, orators, able to sit with dignity in any gathering.”

The road from Oman: process, dialogue and outcomes
Successful applicants join 17 other young people (all from different countries) in Oman for 5 days of walking and talking in the Desert. This is definitely NOT boot camp. Bags are light, support vehicles work hard and all systems and structures are designed to maximise discussion and debate. Walking for around four hours every day in the Desert participants walk in pairs, small groups, ride camels and sometimes walk alone to reflect on their learning thus far. Questions are provided and afternoon workshops in the shade during the heat of the day focus on topics such as stereotypes, values, culture and community, media, dialogue and world leadership.

The ends is a focus on personal action, contributions to local community and how individuals or groups can ‘do their bit’ to make the world a better place.

At first sight this may seem a simple model … but there are multiple complex processes at play.

As a researcher this has challenged my own thinking about numerous methodological challenges. What is success for a programme like this? On what time scale? What can reasonably be attributed to the programme? People who go are a self-selecting sample – does that matter? How to frame the work – sociologically, psychologically, and philosophically. Which body of literatures both from inside and outside of communities to draw upon – international relations, expeditions, outdoor education, group dynamics, youth work, youth studies, peace building, tourism, recreation and more.

One answer is that all or any of these might be useful considerations and if money were no object then drawing upon all of them as part of a large mixed methods piece of work would be ideal.

How others see us and different ways of knowing
Above all – through thinking about this work and enjoying the process of pondering different epistemic choices I am reminded of the value of multiple different ways of knowing.

Especially important when working across cultures and in contexts that are under researched and in some ways novel.

Sometimes the most meaningful things are the most challenging to research. Some people might say that it is not possible to research this kind of work empirically but the purpose has never been to just gather evidence, frame arguments and advocate and lead change but rather the dependent and inter-related nature of all of these.

Arthur Wharton, Racism and Sport: Past and Present

By Isabelle Boulert

Key Facts

  • Football, racism and anti-racism.
  • Born in Jamestown, Gold Coast (now Ghana) in 1865.
  •  Between 1885 and 1895 played as an amateur footballer for Darlington and Preston North End, then professionally for Rotherham Town and Sheffield United.
  • Recorded and verified at the AAA Championship in 1886 as running 100 yards in 10 seconds- the first amateur world record.
  • Between 1895 and 1902 played for Stalybridge Rovers, Ashton North End and Stockport County.
  • He is acknowledged as the world’s first black professional footballer to have played in the Football League.
  • Robert Walker of Queen’s Park and Scotland international Andrew Watson predate Wharton by a decade and are considered the first black amateur players.
  • On his death in 1930 he was buried in an unmarked grave in Edlington, Yorkshire. The grave gained a headstone in 1997 after a campaign by Football Unites Racism Divides (FURD) garnered contributions from the PFA and FA.
  •  In 1998 Phil Vasili published Arthur Wharton 1865-1930 First Black Footballer, building on research from Dr. Ray Jenkins and Wharton’s granddaughter Sheila Leeson.
  • In 2003 Arthur Wharton was inducted into the English Football Hall of Fame.
  •  In 2014, a statue of Wharton was unveiled by the FA at St George’s Park National Football Centre in Burton upon Trent.

Introduction

Much more is needed before we can claim that sport and other areas of society have done enough to assert that attempts to eradicate racism from sport have been a political success. Racisms in sport are complex, contextually specific and not divorced from issues of status, class, sexuality and marginality. Like other forms of injustice, racism is often associated with maldistribution of resources, misinformation and mis-recognition.

Sport has the potential to make a difference but it is also a fertile ground for expressions of racism.More needs to be done to unearth the injustices in every aspect of British public life. Footballing institutions are presented with a chance to use the life of Arthur Wharton and others as an educational tool to fight discrimination, reform practices and celebrate diversity. Such opportunities are often hindered by the fact that the presence of early BAME players in British football’s collective memory has been marginalised.

As is the case with many BAME footballers playing in Britain before 1950, their names are not as widely celebrated as has been the case with footballers such as Cyrille Regis, Laurie Cunningham, Viv Anderson, John Barnes, Rio Ferdinand, Marcus Rashford, Jermaine Defoe, Chris Smalling and many others.

Wharton’s name stands tall alongside the likes of Andrew Watson, Walter Tull and Hong Y Soo as footballing pioneers who struggled and in some cases failed to move into the modern collective memory of football in the UK.

The reasons for this suppression, marginalisation and injustice are varied but modern football needs to recognise their courage. Today’s footballers can draw on such courage as they seek to foster change not just within the footballing community but also British society and beyond.

In Wharton’s case class based discrimination stemming from his move from an amateur to professional sportsman played a role in his suppression from the historical cannon. Racism has also had a long term impact on the recognition and remembrance of his achievements.

Firstly, discriminatory racial attitudes affected how his talent was perceived during his lifetime and thus how his legacy was engaged with following his death.

Secondly, when the disciplines of sporting history, discourse theory, cultural studies and subaltern studies were simultaneously gaining strength in the 1970s and 1980s football in the UK was rife with racially discriminatory sentiments and imperialistic right-wing behaviour.

It was not until 1997, that through a campaign organised by anti-racism activists FURD to place a headstone on Wharton’s unmarked grave, that Wharton became a more widely recognised figure. He was inducted into the English Football Hall of Fame in 2003.

Arthur Wharton’s life and sporting career.

Wharton was born in 1865 to a middle class family of mixed Ghanaian and Scottish heritage. He spent his childhood in the Ghanaian capital of Accra, then under British colonial rule. His father, a Wesleyan Missionary, had strong connections with Britain. Following his father’s death in 1873 Wharton concluded his education in England as per his family’s wishes and began to embrace an ecumenical life.

However, in an interview given in 1896, Wharton admitted that while his father:

“intended him for the Wesleyan ministry [his] inclinations did not lie in that direction.”

The Victorian fascination with the use of sport to transform the young into morally upstanding citizens prepared to defend the colonial realm ensured that sport played an integral part in the school curriculum.

Wharton remarks in 1887 that-  “it was at Cannock School [Shoalhill College] that I first discovered that I was speedy.”

Wharton began competing in amateur athletics competitions while studying and despite his family’s reported belief that such a job was not appropriate for his station, he pursued a career in sport.

Wharton commenced as an amateur athlete before joining both Darlington Cricket and Football Club and Preston North End as a goalkeeper.

At Preston North End he joined William ‘Fatty’ Faulkes and the team of invincibles during their 1886-7 season FA Cup campaign in which they reached the semi-finals.

After setting the first known record for running the Amateur Athletics Association 100 yards sprint in 10 seconds in 1886 he was faced with the criticism that he was an athletic ‘shamateur’- that intensified when he won the same race in 1887.

In 1889 he signed for Rotherham Town as a professional footballer before going on to play for Sheffield United, Rotherham Town, Stalybridge Rovers, Ashton North End and Stockport County before retiring in 1902.

Described as a “first class all-round athlete” by the Ashton Herald in 1896, Wharton was also known to have played cricket, rugby and (albeit rather unsuccessfully) cycled.

While he is recorded as continuing to play sport well past his retirement, Wharton spent his final years working in collieries before his death in 1930.

Victorian engagement

In a Victorian society where scientific racism and social Darwinism shaped thinking about race and supported racism Wharton’s endeavours challenged many of the ideas of the day. Racism shaped views of black athleticism as being brutish and uncontrolled as a result of a perceived lack of self-restraint and intellectual ability.

However, in 1886 it is reported in the Darlington and Stockton Times that Wharton was warmly lauded at a Darlington Cricket Club dinner, when players performed a self-penned song in his honour. Wharton “received cheers of the heartiest, loudest and most enthusiastic in character” in a display of appreciation “of an athlete by athletes.”

His exceptional talents were warmly praised and upon his death representatives from his previous clubs were present at his funeral despite his alienation from football in his later years.

Crabbe and Solomos describe sport as a “passport to inclusion within [the Northern] version of local patriotism.”

An obituary in the Doncaster Chronicle states that Wharton “took a keen interest in all kinds of sport in the village [Edlington] and was very popular.”

While members of Wharton’s local community may have seen him as a talented and well-liked individual, this is not to say that Wharton avoided racial discrimination or abuse in society more broadly. Neither does it suggest that he was considered equal in the eyes of a fundamentally racist society where nationalism was shaped by a number of factors including imperialism and white superiority.

In 1888 it was reported that two of Wharton’s competitors were overheard questioning “Who’s he that we should be frightened of […] him beating us?”

When faced with Wharton’s undeniable talents a narrative forms to explain away any superiority that threatens white supremacy. When Wharton was described as “a born goalkeeper,” in Athletics News there is an underlying inference that his skill is unworthy of respect as it had come from the luck of birth and not the dedication and perseverance lauded as traits of the Victorian gentleman.

Much of the discrimination experienced on a daily basis went unrecorded by sources as it would have been considered the norm at the time.

What is clearly recorded is how his sporting superiority was explained through a narrative of moral and intellectual inferiority. In an obituary written after his death it was stated that “like many other West Africans, Wharton preferred a sporting to an intellectual career. “

Cultural assumptions made about Wharton’s race contributed to his suppression because they were based on his inherent inferiority. Berger and Niven are under no illusions that the promulgation of certain viewpoints in the writing of history are often conveniently linked to the consolidation and augmentation of power for certain dominant groups in society.

As the historical narrative is in part shaped by memory, and memory is filtered by what is considered most pertinent, even if Wharton regularly beat white men in the sporting arena he would have been seen as irrelevant and thus suppressed in the collective memory and historical cannon because his perceived superiority threatened the racial discourses that supported the dominant white narrative of the time that accompanied the history of sport in the UK.

Arthur Wharton’s relevance to-day

Many have argued that English football was rejuvenated in the 1990s. The creation of organisations such as Show Racism the Red Card and Kick It Out played a significant part in forcing football’s reticent institutions to directly challenge racist behaviour. Additionally, the transition from the 1986 Public Order Act to the 1991 Football Offences Act ensured that legislation specifically targeted racial abuse.

Racist behaviour is now condemned more readily and clubs are increasingly willing to undertake community outreach and grassroots projects to engage with the communities that they previously excluded.

However, the footballing community is still challenged by structures that support institutional racism. The disproportionate number of BAME coaches and managers stands as an embarrassing testament to this. Football institutions have a responsibility to address the issue and speed up not just the process of social change but social justice.

Widely propagating the history of a BAME footballer playing at the birth of football as we recognise it today provides an example of the importance of BAME people at the very heart of football’s early development in the UK. In doing so, it could further encourage an institution with a chequered past to advance its efforts to eradicate racism in football.

King quotes a black course member on an FA run UEFA coaching badge qualification course as saying that:

“I feel this course is just a minor image of the personalities who run it. They are backward thinking, racists and colonialists.”

Echoes of the racial stereotyping Wharton faced based on black athleticism not intellect may be part of an explanation as to why more BAME players are not transitioning into managerial roles.

If footballing clubs and institutions were to actively re-engage and celebrate the long-standing history of BAME contributions to British football perhaps more effective transformative gains could be made in the efforts to reduce discrimination.

Conclusion

The broken link between past and present should be championed in order to increase the number of role models and their stories  ( e.g from Wharton to the modern day) about actively struggling  to combat experiences of racism in sport.

Racism and anti-racism in and through sport remain and contribute to our understanding of contemporary life in at least two senses:

In a socio-economic sense, anti-racism policies and practices remind us that racism remains central to a complete understanding of sport, social inequality, justice and social policy.

In a geopolitical sense, different attitudes across Europe, towards the 2016 refugee crisis, for example, also remind us that sport is both implicated and a resource of hope, whereas racism continues to be a source of conflict between states, nations and communities that fail to act on the ideal of many cultures but one humanity.

The marginalised experience, voice and account of Arthur Wharton is but one of the many athletic encounters that can be activated in educational, social and political struggles against racism in and through sport. 

Shaping alternative education through sport

By Neil Rankin

Is there now an opportunity to use sport to shape the provision of alternative education in Scotland?

From the Commonwealth, to the United Nations to more local national governments there is a growing awareness of and pressure for sport to deliver broader social outcomes. The advent of a mandate within the new 2030 UN Sustainable Development Goals provides the opportunity to advance not so much sport for sport goals but sport for broader social goals and outcomes.

Based upon the premise that sport can engage, motivate and inspire not just those on the margins, the rise of sport-plus programmes has created a burgeoning sport-for-development sector. An expanding international community exists comprised of NGO’s, private enterprise and policymakers driven by the role sport can play in social change. This particular piece of research focuses upon on how community football can help with educational attainment.

Sport for Change
Sport-for-change projects are often a response to declining social and economic conditions. Neoliberalism has seen a gradual decline in the state provision of services. Education and social welfare have witnessed a reduction in state funding with the consequence being that all alternatives need to be considered. A traditional one-size-fits-all approach to education is no longer accepted as the only way.

As sport is increasingly being used for social good, there begins to be opportunities for sport to play a more significant role in education. Sport-for-change organisations praise the characteristics of sport such as cooperation, respect and discipline. These characteristics can be influential in areas of lower social capital and where expanding educational opportunity and attainment is viewed as a Scottish Government priority.

A sport-based alternative model of using popular aspects of sport to deliver educational outcomes has proven to be successful in many international contexts. The value of such models is in the engagement strategies of educators and programme managers. The non-conformity of alternative education is important in engagement. Building trust and confidence to build sustained educational support necessitates the building of caring relationships that work for people.

The Everton Free School, England
In England, Government funded, but privately operated, academies have been established. In Liverpool, The Everton Free School-[http://www.evertonfreeschool.com/] opened in 2012.  This was a social responsibility programme delivered by Everton Football Club. The initial project was aimed at engaging the most vulnerable and disengaged young people within the community. There was a strong focus on working towards physical education and other sport-based qualifications. The school helps students advance academic qualifications in maths, English and science. The academy is next to the club stadium, the uniform is Everton FC tracksuits and staff embrace the informal education ideology. Sport is engrained in everything they do at the school.

Child Resiliency Programme, Jamaica
The Child Resiliency Programme in Jamaica uses sport-based interventions to engage “at-risk” youth. Young people are identified early in their educational pathway and are given additional support in their personal development. This project aims to divert youth toward positive destinations and increase their resiliency to anti-social and criminal pathways. This style of intervention is an example of informal education, whereby the emphasis is not on improving attainment rather developing the character of young people and improving outlook. This style of intervention builds on characteristics of sport – teamwork, respect, cooperation – that can be important in developing the character of participants. This is a common theme in many sport for development projects across the world.

Spartans Community Football Academy, Scotland 
Research conducted in 2016 sought to shed light on the place of Spartans Community Football Academy [http://www.spartanscfa.com/] (SCFA) in north Edinburgh. A selection of responses provide insight into thematic areas.There are parts of north Edinburgh that are within the most deprived 5-10% of Scotland. High crime and unemployment rates exist, fuelled by educational attainment challenges. Disengagement from mainstream education can be a result of many socioeconomic factors:

 

  • “for a lot of people growing up in our area to break the cycle they think they have to leave because of what there surrounded with are evidence and examples of like what living in poverty is and what it looks like”
  • “looking at how deprived our area is and it’s not just financially, its things like single parent families, or looked after children with no parents, employment, people in prison, substance abuse, and those kind of things which are causing deprivation in people’s lives. Granton and Pilton are in the lowest 10%”
  • “you’re coming from a place where you had to get yourself and your siblings ready for school ……….and you come in and you’re told to get excited about a flow chart”

There is, in some cases falsely, a polarization between communities that creates stigmas of social deprivation and areas being troublesome:

  • “you don’t get the opportunity to read much good news about young people in this area, it’s not celebrated, there’s loads of young people in this area doing brilliant things, but there’s a small minority that are up to mischief that get a disproportionate amount of media coverage”

Since 2008, SCFA have been delivering community outreach programmes in north Edinburgh. They use their position as a local football club to engage young people in the area. SCFA recognise the popularity of football, and other sports, to young people in the area. The organisation advocates the positive impacts sport can have on development:

  • “I think you can learn a lot of life skills through sport in terms of respect and cooperation”
  • “sport is a great leveller, and it helps build communication between people”
    “sport is a fantastic tool for providing teamwork, companionship, common purpose, common goal, fitness, healthy living, healthy lifestyle, there so much, anything you can think of that can provide you endorphins can come through sport … it’s a way to channel emotions”

The attributes of the SCFA model align with theories of alternative education. Staff are recruited based on their background and personal ideologies on the provision of education. The complex consists of two full-size artificial football pitches:

  • “I think even just coming to a place like this with the big pitches is more engaging, it doesn’t seem like a school for them”

Creating a different environment also helps to break down barriers that previously existed between young people in deprived areas and wider society:

  • “the social work, the schools, the police and all those organisations were the enemy….. we have youth workers in the school, we have police at the youth centre, we all dovetail together so that you can say that the youth workers are at the school so therefore the youth centres are not bad therefore the schools are not bad so therefore it breaks down the enemy status”

The pupils also have a bigger say in the way lessons are delivered and what they learn about:

  • “if they are interested in Hearts FC then they can base their project they have to do for English around that which engages them a lot more”

The smaller class sizes at the alternative school support learning by giving teachers more time to spend with each pupil, meaning that each individual has the support he or she needs to focus and to understand the content of their curriculum:

  • “but it’s different from going and being in a room with 20 odd other kids and having to do a subject they have no interest in … they get more attention one to one most of the time, sometimes I maybe had two, then they would go and maybe do something with the youth worker, and what was really good as well was the rest of it, it wasn’t just Maths and English, they were learning to cook”

Overall, the programme managers and staff at SCFA recognise that the students they work with are no less talented than those in mainstream education. This is not a question about ability but about opportunity and support. The difference is the students get bespoke time and attention to help them with the development of education through the popular medium of football. For some this could be one of the first times that an adult in their life has shown belief in their abilities:

  • “it’s about how do you have different options that can coexist for young people that means every young person has got a potential pathway that allows them to develop and grow”
  • “I would say this pupil needs a bit of significant other support and they get paired once a week with a youth worker, we’ve had youth workers in the school, that’s something that the youth centre network is very good at – just creating that familiarisation”
  • “we have a transitions coordinator who will be in meetings at primary school and bring them though just to try and give them some stability and structure and continuity in their lives”

SCFA are providing a real service to the local community by attempting to enhance educational as this can have knock-on effect of improving employment prospects and reducing crime. The organisation are currently operating as a social enterprise but it is an aspiration to have their vision supported by the City of Edinburgh Council.

  • “we need to convince the local authority that we have a service and product worth paying for, that our proposition delivers results for these young people and its worth investing their pupil premium, I actually think we can get more for their money as well”

There is increasing recognition that a one size fits all approach to education is outdated in the 21st century. Education continues to be a major political issue in Scotland and across the UK. Alternative methods are being looked at by governments and the third sector across the globe. Harnessing the engaging power of sport could be an innovative and progressive method in developing alternative places to learn.

Football and peace in the Middle East

By Dr Joel Rookwood

How has football for peace worked in the Middle East?- Some observations:

The Middle East can be considered a transcontinental region comprising approximately 370 million people who speak more than sixty languages and live across seventeen countries. The Eurocentric term is of British origin and was coined and first applied as a prefix to ‘question’, as a mark of the strategic importance yet disputed understanding of the region. Its geopolitical, economic and cultural significance has been recognized for millennia. Numerous world religions trace their origins to the Middle East. The region, like others, has a long association with ethno-religious conflicts, ideological struggles and resource and territorial disputes.

Despite having fought wars with its neighbours (Egypt, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon), civil conflict has perhaps proven the most consistent threat to peace and stability in Israel. Relations between Israeli Jews and Palestinian Arabs have frequently dominated international news. Few efforts to build peace across ethno-religious divides have proven successful, in Israel and the Palestinian territories of Gaza and the West Bank.

Some agencies have prioritized projects and campaigned for policies and provision which emphasize the identification of and focus on commonalities, mutual cooperation and equality. However, in a militaristic and splintered society, where ethnic divisions run deep and trust does not, encouraging Jews and Arabs to build meaningful, lasting and mutually beneficial relations has challenged those striving to contribute to peace building in the region.

Sports such as football has been employed in this context. The use of competitive invasion sports centred on binary oppositions has been contested. Israel’s capital city is home to Beitar Jerusalem, a football club whose supporter base includes dominant Jewish nationalist fractions strongly opposed to Muslims. Importantly, such racist attitudes and behaviours are certainly not held by all football fans in Israel.

As with most social and sporting activities, football is not a priori good or bad, but can produce a range of positive as well as negative outcomes. In relation to participation (both on and off the field), football’s potential as a vehicle to promote social construction or deconstruction is largely dependent on how related engagements are presented, perceived, experienced and remembered. The ‘pacifist potential of football’ to which the seminal work of Sugden is associated with has been crucial in a project that has been implemented in Israel since 2001.

For most of that period the ‘Football for Peace’ (F4P) initiative has been run by Professor Sugden and his colleagues from University of Brighton in collaboration with others from further afield. The project has been subject to valuable academic research, but Sugden’s editorial collection on the project perhaps best represents the diversity of disciplinary lenses through which the initiative has been scrutinized.

F4P has sought to make grass-roots interventions into Middle Eastern sporting culture, contributing towards peaceful integration in the often violent, mistrusting and detached Jewish and Arab communities in Israel. The initiative has employed a specifically designed value-based football coaching model, in which all aspects of the programme are underpinned by neutrality, inclusion, respect, trust and responsibility.

Working with mixed groups of Arab and Jewish boys or girls from a similar area, student coaches from Britain collaborate with local coaches and respected community leaders who also serve as translators. Each programme begins with trust building exercises and concludes with mixed-team tournaments on designated festival days. The project has also developed some year-round cross-cultural collaboration, whilst diversifying the locations (such as Northern Ireland) and sporting applications (including rugby).

Such initiatives present a number of inherent challenges, pertaining for instance to practical and linguistic issues, as well as monitoring and evaluation and risk management. I was among the group of fifty F4P students and staff who were checked in and waiting to board a flight to Tel Aviv in July 2006 when news broke of the Lebanon conflict that had begun hours earlier in northern Israel.

Engaging in complex and dangerous locations, it is difficult to demonstrate and prove that such initiatives work, and that they are worth the risks involved. Training volunteers is demanding and preparing personnel to work in potentially perilous environments is fraught with challenges – and the impact of a project will always depend in part on the effectiveness of its staff.

For the participants, some perceive and receive such initiatives as political engagements, others view them as programmes that ‘make a difference’ whilst some merely consider them an opportunity to play football. It is not possible to fully represent, reconcile or explain such diversity, but it is important to remember that even well-intentioned, effectively managed projects will not always have the desired impact on every recipient.

Setting such initiatives in context however, peace seems as elusive in Israel. There is a continual need for constructive, internationally mediated dialogue and collaboration, cross-cultural relationship building, mutually reliant and beneficial infrastructure, and meaningfully representative and constructive politics.

There is need for international pressure around a long list of issues which may include:

• Illegal Israeli Settlements in the West Bank;
• Sporadic Palestinian attacks on Jews living in Israel;
• Protection of the rights of Arabs living in both Palestinian and Israeli territories;
• An end to the forced reclamation of Palestinian homes;
• An increase in aid, support and peace building in Gaza;
• Reinstatement and then normalization of relations with Lebanon,
• Resettlement of Palestinian refugee communities currently residing in Lebanon and Jordan;
• A permanent ceasefire in Syria;
• The removal of land mines at the Golan Heights and other international borders;
• Increased security cooperation and diplomatic mediation with Egypt; an end to the construction (and eventual removal) of the West Bank Wall; and
• What improved economic ties with all neighbouring countries. Faced with such an array of challenges, micro-level projects might seem insignificant –

Other issues could be added to this list If they can be connected with other initiatives, a coalition for peace could grow in strength and increase in impact.

During the process of working on football-based peace building projects I have interviewed dozens of local and international advocates in Israel, and in nations such as Liberia, Azerbaijan, Rwanda, Bosnia and Russia. If intra- and inter-project analysis produces robust evidence that sporting programmes such as F4P are worth the risk and resources, that football can reach beyond the political rhetoric and actually contribute to peace building, then long may these programmes develop.

It is worth remembering however, that whatever vehicle is used to drive Israel in the direction of peace, however well intended ‘cultural engagements’ such as F4P might be, coverall responses rarely solve complicated problems, especially at the intersection of ingrained mutual distrust and fragile peace.